In ancient times, the mullet was very popular with the Greeks, who dedicated it to Diana. As for the Romans, they were crazy about this fish, which they called Mulle. Seneca told the story of the time a good size mullet (4½ pounds) was presented to Emperor Tiberius, who found it too expensive and so ordered it to be returned to the market, where Octavius and Apicius, the chef, fought over it.

The latter often used to broil this fish simply, but was constantly looking for the best way to season it. He left several recipes behind, including one using mullet livers (the Romans' favorite part, along with the head). He also cooked it with oysters, sea urchins, seaweed, and lobster meat.

The Romans were not the only ones to like mullet liver. Later, on the banks of the French Mediterranean, mullet was nicknamed "woodcock of the sea" and fishermen roasted it as it was, without scaling or gutting it. Léon Daudet said that "a mullet without its liver is like Paganini without his violin."

A fresh mullet should have transparent eyes, an intact belly, and a bright color.

Soft flesh, washed-out colors, or a gray tint, scales that are coming off, and opaque eyes mean that the fish is not fresh.

Fillets should be very firm and have a pleasant sea smell.

The origin of the mullet must always be indicated on the label.

Mullets are sold fresh and whole or filleted.

They are also sold in frozen fillets, with their scales and bones removed, but with the skin still attached. They come from Thailand or Vietnam.

A mullet must be carefully scaled, gutted by the gills, sometimes using its liver, which is particularly tasty, or putting it to one side.

If broiling it, it is not necessary to scale it, however, as the scales protect the mullet's fragile flesh.

Fillets can be removed from medium-size mullets and carefully deboned.

If not cooked a la plancha or on a grill, mullet can be fried, gently poached, or stuffed.

A mullet must be carefully scaled, gutted by the gills, sometimes using its liver, which is particularly tasty, or putting it to one side.

If broiling it, it is not necessary to scale it, however, as the scales protect the mullet's fragile flesh.

Fillets can be removed from medium-size mullets and carefully deboned.

If not cooked a la plancha or on a grill, mullet can be fried, gently poached, or stuffed.

If a mullet is not used immediately after purchase, the scales must be (carefully) removed, and then the fish cleaned and dried before storing in the refrigerator. All bloody parts must be removed. The liver should be kept separately.

Rich in protein, like all fish, the mullet contains some lipids, which are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and Omega 3.

Mullet live near the shore on the sandy or rocky bottoms of the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific, and Indian Ocean. They are warm-water fish but, with global warming, ever-increasing numbers are being spotted in the Atlantic.

There are around twenty species of mullet. The four most popular are:

Striped red mullet

An adult can grow up to 20–25 cm long. Its pink/reddish body is characterized by a brown band and several yellow/gold bands from the tail to under the eyes, under which there are two scales. Its first dorsal fin is striped. It lives on sandy bottoms, where it can feed more easily. It has the most delicate flesh of all the varieties.

Red goatfish

This looks a lot like the striped red mullet, but has a yellow dorsal stripe, and its first dorsal fin has two stripes, one orange, one yellow. It is found mainly in the Mediterranean.

.Mullus barbatus, usually simply called red mullet

This is reddish-brown with olive-green hues, has three scales under the eyes, and its first fin is colorless.

.West African goatfish

Its body has small stripes punctuated by yellow on the sides and blue on the cheeks.

It is always bigger than the other types of mullet and it is fished, as its name suggests, off the coast of Senegal. Its flesh is coarser.

Because demand is so high, especially in France, mullet is imported from Vietnam and Thailand (cinnabar goatfish). They are the same type as the ones from West Africa.

Mullet is available all year round. Mullet from the Mediterranean is mainly fished from May through October.