This is one of the simplest and most fool-proof ways of cooking fish. It’s also a lot of fun preparing fish in this way with kids as it’s almost arts-and-crafts meets cooking! As the video shows, Archie certainly had fun making the parcels – although I will readily admit that his eye stabbing technique (the fish, not his daddy’s!) did leave something to be desired… That said, his accidental preparation of rosemary olive oil (about 5 and a half minutes into the video) will be forgiven when I use it too cook lamb later in the week!
As I have said before, I am lucky to have a great value fishmonger at a market nearby and these two whole sea breams cost me a little over £6 (bought at the end of the day, as I always do). If you don’t have a local fishmonger, keep an eye out at the supermarket for specials. I was in Tesco last week and they had 2 sea bass for £6. As fish is easily frozen, it pays to buy when you see the deals and freeze for when you will want to use them…
Sea bream baked in a parcel
Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking time 25 minutes.
Ideally we would have needed one and a half fishes so these two fish amply fed the three of us – and they would easily feed a family of four.
Preheat your oven to a little below its maximum temperature (somewhere around 230°C / 445°F)
2 whole sea bream, gutted and scaled
1 fennel bulb, sliced VERY thinly (a mandolin or grater is the best way to do this)
500g new potatoes
2 large sprigs of rosemary
2 large sheets of non-stick paper (about 60cm long)
Green beans to serve
- Par-boil the new potatoes for about 10 minutes.
- Let them cool a little and cut them into thin slices of about 5mm (thinner than I did on the video!).
- Take one sheet of non-stick paper and spread a little olive oil on the base, on the right hand side of the sheet.
- Place half of the sliced fennel on top of the oil and then place the fish on top of the fennel.
- Spread half of the potatoes around the fish.
- Slash three diagonal cuts in the top of the fish.
- Put one sprig of rosemary, salt and pepper into the cavity of the fish. Season the potatoes and the top of the fish too.
- Drizzle amply with olive oil and then fold the non-stick paper over the fish and seal all the edges of the parcel by scrunching the paper tightly. It’s not the biggest tragedy if the parcel is not 100% air-tight.
- Repeat for the other fish and place both parcels on a baking tray in the hot oven. Bake for 25 minutes.
- With 10 minutes to go, cook your vegetables (we ate simple green beans).
- Remove the parcels from the oven and open them to let the steam out. Serve immediately. The fish will be so soft that it should just slide off the bone, making it easy serve without bones…