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By Reefmonkey
I've been reading a great book, The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack E Davis, a sort of cultural and environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico. Great read, I highly recommend it. One chapter talks about the importance mullet has played in the diets of people on the eastern side of the Gulf. My mother is a Florida native, so I've known mullet is eaten over there for a long time, and I did have some smoked mullet dip on one of many trips there, and it was excellent. But I've never bothered with mullet here in Texas, other than using it for bait.

The book, along with my travels in Japan and much of Europe and even down in Tanzania, remind me of how narrow-minded we Texans can be about which of our native fish we deign to eat. I've never caught a largemouth bass (being solely a saltwater fisherman) , but have heard from white Texan freshwater fishermen that they're not worth eating. I learned how wrong that was when I ate one that a friend had caught and his Vietnamese immigrant mother had cooked which was fantastic. Once my dad and I were out fishing with a guide who was appalled that I wanted to keep the sheepshead I caught (fantastic eating), or the bluefish my dad was thrilled to catch (dad's originally from New Jersey and said he hadn't had broiled bluefish in 40 years). This guide wouldn't even eat redfish, only trout. I asked him if he had ever tried sheepshead, and he said no. I asked him how he knew sheepshead wasn't good to eat then, and it was something along the lines of "nobody I know eats those". That's how these prejudices against a certain species get passed down, from father to son, each repeating what his father had told him, no telling how many generations it has been since an ancestor dared to try the despised fish himself, if at all.

Mullet has to be the most despised of Texas's saltwater denizens, eating wise (well, maybe next to hardheads), and yet I doubt 99% of Texas anglers have even tried one. So this weekend, when I managed to catch 4 big ones in my cast net, I thought I'd give mullet the Pepsi Challenge.

I started out by frying a fillet, dredged in a simple batter of AP flour, salt, and club soda. It was a nice mild flaky white fish. Not fishy tasting, not muddy.

So then I moved on to a classic recipe, smoked mullet. I butterflied it, soaked it in my standard fish brine, and then smoked it with cherry wood. Straight out of the smoker with a squirt of lemon, not bad at all. Even better flaked up and mixed with cream cheese, mayo, chopped green onion, a dash of hot sauce, spread on crackers.
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By texnomad
Hardheads caught out in clean water, not boat basins, like at the AP or Galveston jetties are just fine. Make sure they are large enough for the cleaning bother but otherwise they are decent cat fish.
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By karstopo
I haven't had mullet, but do like most every saltwater fish I've tried and I've tried many different species. Most people around here throw back bluefish but I think they taste great.

I may have to try some mullet. Thanks for being the guinea pig.
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By Music Man
When I was really young we lived in central Florida and frequented a little fishing village called Cedar Key. All around that area they sold smoked mullet. They split the fish, hung it up, and smoked it with bay wood (native to that area). It was absolutely fantastic. Every time we went back to visit we would pig out on them and bring as much as possible back home.

Bay wood has an interesting flavor and the fish were seasoned very well. Meat was still tender and had a light flavor. Sometimes you would get part of a fish that was a bit oily.

They get very tempting when nothing is biting...
By jnd1959
I suspect taste is dependent on water quality and what they were eating as well as size. I've heard of people eating small jacks and say they taste ok. It may be that taste is hit or miss and more commonly miss.

What size were the mullet?
By Kayak Kid
When it comes to food, in general, taste is a matter of individual likes and dislikes. I know of some people who eat and enjoy mountain oysters. I know other folks who think that tripe is the food of the gods. I would not touch either of those dishes due to both the origin and the unpalatable (to me) taste.

Following is based on my persona taste preferences:

I've eaten our Texas gulf coast mullet on several occasions and cooked several ways. It was not, by far, what I consider to be tasty fish. Yet, I have also eaten mullet that came from the colder clearer waters of the North West coast. Delicious compared to our muddy warm water variety.

Blue fish from our coastal waters is ok if prepared properly and not frozen. Again, the blue fish from colder East Coast waters is a true joy to the palate.

Sheepshead, while somewhat tedious to clean, is one of the most delicious species from our coastal waters. I place it's flavor above that of our delicious specs, reds, and flounder.

My two ultimate favorites are not easy to come by, but occasionally luck does favor us. Pompano (en papillote) and triple tail (anyway) are both food that the gods would have chosen.
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Had sheepshead at resturant last time I was at the cost, my wife and I loved it guess I need to take some time to fish for them....I’ll try anything once, but since I don’t think I can catch a mullet on rod and reel I probably will not eat mullet.

Not hearing any thing about skipjacks are they as bad as people say?

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By texnomad
Back in the 50s when my parents had a bay house we would catch very large mullet on a cane pole with dough balls of bread and relatively small hooks. Back then we froze them for gaftopsail bait.
By RealBigReel
When I lived in Waco I used to go down to the Marlin Falls on the Brazos river and catch Mullet in a cast net. Caught a bunch of nice ones. The biggest one I ever caught was 21", but I caught a bunch at 14". Nothing wrong with the flavor of river Mullet.
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By Yaklash
I think for the most part, there are prejudices handed down or passed along, but for me it's a matter of relativity. Relative to crappie, white bass or even small mouth, you couldn't give me a black bass caught in a lake. Other species, it can make a world of difference where the catfish are caught. Catfish for instance - I've eaten catfish from Lake Livingston that tasted live mud compared to some I caught in Canton Lake, then there are catfish I caught in the gin clear Guadalupe River (best catfish ever).

For saltwater species, it's a matter of relativity for me. Tripletail, flounder and sheepshead are my favorites, but trout and reds are what I eat most because it's what I catch most. And as stated above, pompano is an uncommon treat. Then there are pan fish. Whiting and (hard to find any more) 1-2 lb croaker are delicious when eaten fresh. And I'm not going to even get into offshore species other than to say there are a whole bunch of prejudices on species out there.

Not sure why I'd venture towards mullet or hardheads when I have so many other options that are so widely available.
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By weekendyakker
Honestly, it's all about how a fish is prepared & cooked. Jacks are actually pretty darn tasty BUT you have to trim a good portion of the fillet off. I'm sure at one time or another just about everyone had a buddy grill a fillet with the lateral bloodline in the middle, it made the entire fillet tast like trash.
Supposedly, a good portion of the calamari from South America is actually circles punched through stingrays. Think it's strange eating mullet, let me tell ya that you can get some good chunks of meat off a stingray. Seriously, youtube it.
By Kayak Kid
I've heard that stingray is delicious. There has been a rumor for years that the scallops served in restaurants are often cookie cutter stingray. Whether true or not, I could care less.

I made a pact early on that if the stingrays left me alone, I would not eat or kill them. I've lived judiciously up to my end of the bargain. The stingrays only broke the agreement once. Ouch!!!!
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By weekendyakker
You're right, it's scallops not calamari like I said. You've been tagged before? Ouch, so far I've been lucky enough to avoid that adventure.
By jnd1959
Kayak Kid wrote:I've heard that stingray is delicious. There has been a rumor for years that the scallops served in restaurants are often cookie cutter stingray. Whether true or not, I could care less.

I made a pact early on that if the stingrays left me alone, I would not eat or kill them. I've lived judiciously up to my end of the bargain. The stingrays only broke the agreement once. Ouch!!!!

Grounds for treaty nullification in my book. It just take one. If I catch a stingray this weekend I will eat him in your honor. :lol:

edited because my fingers don't work anymore and I can't stand to post with misspelled words.
By Kayak Kid
I won't lower myself and nullify my treaty. Mute point because I no longer wade in salt water. Yet, I assure you the treaty named only myself. So, feel free to kill as many of the worthless, lying creatures as you so desire.
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By JW FunGuy
I’m with Music Man! When I was a kid we lived in Tampa, my dad and I would go fishing and on the way back would stop at one of the “mullet houses”. Same thing, they had the smoked mullet strung up, we would get a smoked mullet, some oysters on the half shell, my dad would have a beer and I would get a coke. It was our favorite thing to do and I wish we had them here. So I could have the beer!
Damn I think there’s a song in there somewhere!
By mwatson71
I have never had a mullet but recently tried gaftop catfish and it was pretty good. It was way too hard to clean for what I got out of it. I have also eaten sheepshead and agree with the OP about the biases we learn from others. It was several years ago on the SLP fishing pier (so before Hurricane Ike) and I was fishing with a buddy of mine and I caught a pretty big sheepshead. As I was about to toss it back he starts yelling at me asking me what the &@$)( I am doing. Tells me it is one of the tastiest fish we can catch. I take him at his word, keep it, and he cleaned it when we got back to my house and he was absolutely right. It was as sweet and white as jumbo lump crab meat. I never intentionally fish for them but if I were to catch one big enough, I’d for sure have it for dinner.

I think my preference for speckled trout is a combination of how fun they are to catch, how easy they are to clean, and the many ways you can prepare them for the table.
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By Fishtolive
Yep! Have tried sheepheads and they are delicious.
But never try mullet before.
May be someday if I cannot catch anything else beside the mullet then I will consider it ....:)
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By Music Man
Ditto on the sheep head. We keep every sizable one we catch. One of the restaurants in Cedar Key served a whole fried sheep head. It was fantastic.

Anyone here ever had a palm salad that is popular in Florida? Goes great with seafood.
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By reelfisherman
Haven't eaten mullet. However I'm not a big fan af trout and flounder. However redfish is a favorite of mine so . . .
Fresh water bass is good as are perch, crappie, pike and walleye.

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