Barboon Maklee: Egyptian Fried Red Mullet: بربون مقلي

Fried Red Mullet For Christmas Celebration!

A little over two weeks until Orthodox Nativity Fasting is over!

Therefore, no meat dishes or dairy ingredients are allowed in copts’ diet, until we celebrate Coptic Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. 

If you have been following my blog, you probably know that I am copt (Christian Egyptian) and the church congregation I belong to is following a different calendar than the western one. 

Given the above, we celebrate Christmas on January 7th, and not on December 24th. A bit unusual but true!

That said, my kids open their Christmas gifts on December 24th. The gifts’ ceremony is usually followed with a nice pescatarian dinner, that everyone in the family appreciates and looks forward to.

Fried red mullet is a fish dish that I grew up eating in my hometown Alexandria, and although my kids never lived in Egypt, I make sure to give them a taste of my Egyptian food heritage.

More About Red Mullet 

A photo of raw fish
Raw Red Mullet Fish. Stock Image Credit: Canva

Red mullet fish is also known as goatfish. It has a clean favor and and a delicate, white, and flaky flesh, which takes well different options of marinade.

In addition to the ocean water, Red Mullet or Goatfish is found in the Mediterranean sea, where I spend 14 years on its shores. 

The freshness of the fish is key, so pt for the freshest fish and never compromise this factor.  

For tips on buying fresh fish, check out this link. 

How-To Cook Red Mullet 

Red mullet is a versatile fish. It could be either roasted under a blanket of citrusy sauce as in this BBC Good Food recipe, or simply fried like this recipe.  Either or, this fish almost takes no time to prepare and cook, which makes perfect for weekdays dinner or for entertaining. 

Save your time and ask your fish monger to clean, gut and scaled the fish on your behalf.

Starting with gutted and scaled fish will save you at least 30 mins. Also, you will avoid the spread of raw fish bacteria around your kitchen.

This Egyptian recipe is so simple and doesn’t require any advanced cooking skills. All you need to do is to soak the fish in a simple marinade of lemon/lime juice and some spices. Coat it with some flour and then fry it on hot oil. 

What to Serve With Red Mullet

This Fried Mullet goes pairs perfectly well with ”Ruz Smak” (Egyptian rice cooked with caramelized onions), spicy Tahini sauce and a traditional Salata Baladi” (Egyptian green salad)

A photo of Spicy Tahini sauce
Spicy Tahini Sauce

In case you can’t find any red mullet, apply the same recipe on fish fillet. 

Get In Touch 

I can’t wait for you to try this recipe in your kitchen and post your feedback in the comments.

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Barboun Maklee: Egyptian Fried Mullet 

Serves 4 -6 people 


  • 1 kg of red mullet fish, gutted and scaled 

For The Marinade 

  • 2 tablespoons lemon/lime juice  
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika 
  •  1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • Salt to taste 

For The coating 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour 

For Frying 

  • 1 1/2 cup of vegetable oil 


  1. Marinade the fish. In a deep and sizable mixing bowl, add the spices and  lemon juice. Make couple of incision with a paring knife and then thoroughly massage the fish with that marinade. Leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes at least, or one hour max.
  2. Coating the fish with flour: Sift over a deep bowl, the flower, cornflour, and baking powder. Dredge the fish in the flour mixture, while heating the frying oil to 365°F in a large frying pan over medium heat. 
  3. Frying the fish: Add the flour-coated fish carefully to the frying pan. Don’t cram the frying pan, just  2 -3 pieces maximum and don’t walk away as this fish cooks so fast. Once the fish skin becomes golden brown, remove the fish with long food tongs. To get rid of the excess oil,  let the fish rest on a plate lined with absorbent paper.
  4. Serve: Sprinkle the fish with some salt and pepper and serve it hot along with wedges of lemon or lime. 


  • Don’t leave the fish too long in the marinade as the texture and the flavor will deteriorate.
  • In case you don’t find red mullets, use any fish fillet and apply the same ingredients and directions. 

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