Triglie are mullet, and you'll find two closely related species in Italian markets:
- Tiglia di Scoglio, or reef mullet (pictured here); the fish can be up to 16 inches (40 cm) long, though these are much smaller, and prefer rocky sea bottoms or stands of algae.
- Triglia di fango, or mud mullet; the fish are paler than reef mullet, their heads are steeper in profile, and they're smaller, up to a maximum length of 10 inches (25 cm). As their name implies, triglie di fango prefer sandy or silty sea bottoms.
One thing to keep in mind is that both mullets are quite delicate, and should be prepared at once, with care. Scale them under running water, and as for cleaning, many do not gut reef mullet.
Reef mullet are moderately fatty and well suited to baking, roasting, or sautéing, are an important ingredient in fish stews, and if small are also nice fried. A drawback? They are quite bony.
One of the most classic ways to prepare them:
Reef Mullet Livorno Style, or Triglie alla Livornese
To serve 4:
12 mullet weighing 1/4 pound (100 g) each, scaled (and cleaned if you prefer)
1 pound (500 g) plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 2/3 pound (300 g) canned plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
A medium bunch parsley, minced
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
Salt and pepper or hot pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to contain the fish and sauté the garlic until it is browned. Discard it, and add the tomatoes; add a little water, and season to taste with salt and pepper, or if you'd rather, red pepper -- Livornesi are known for it. Cook over a medium flame for 20 minutes, and then add the fish; cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes more, occasionally giving the pan a shake -- no need to turn the fish.
Dust the fish with parsley before serving them.
Note: This dish is based upon the Jewish Triglie alla Mosaica, and came to Livorno with the Spanish Jews who arrived in 1593, the year the Tuscan Grand Dukes opened the city to immigration.
Mullet on About:
Reef Mullet in Packets, or Al Cartoccio
How to Select Fresh Fish
How to Serve a Whole Fish at Table
Other Fish Recipes