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Gill Bland

Sea Bream en Papillote

Posted by Gill Bland Monday, 9th February 2015

When I was pondering what recipe to make on theme of “food to share with your valentine” I initially thought of a fondue. I like the idea of food where you can’t try to be on your best behaviour – you’re going to get messy and see the ‘real’ valentine, not the perfectly mannered dining partner you might encounter during a meal in a high end and terrifyingly well mannered restaurant. Fondue had one thing right and one thing wrong. Right – it’s easy to make, so one of you isn’t going to feel like they’ve been working away all evening when they should be relaxing. Wrong – I don’t know about you but a vat full of cheese is more likely to make me want to curl up under a duvet than engage in sparkling conversation (or whatever). So, here is my alternative suggestion for messy but tasty eating: Sea Bream en Papillote.


A whole, baked sea bream looks pretty impressive and takes minimal effort. It’s also light enough not to send your valentine into a dairy-coma. I suggest you serve it whole, still in the paper and both dive in at the same time. You’ll get in a right mess as you pull it apart so there’ll be no standing on ceremony and every excuse to lick the juice off your fingers. 


Sea Bream en Papillote


  • 1 large fresh sea bream - I suggest about ½ kg for two people or 1 each if you’re hungry. Ask the fishmonger to clean and trim it.
  • ¼ red onion, sliced
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of olive / sesame  / walnut oil
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp pureed ginger (or an inch sized piece of ginger finely grated)
  • Leaves from 1 small bunch of fresh coriander


  • 1 large piece of baking parchement


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180c
  2. Cut a piece of baking parchment that is big enough for you to sit your fish on whilst twisting the top and ends to seal it in a ‘bag’. Mine was around A3 sized.
  3. Using a shape knife slice the zest off the lemon into wide pieces – thumb sized
  4. Place the fish on the parchment and cut 3 slits in the side facing up/
  5. Smear the ginger paste inside and over the skin of the fish.
  6. Place a few pieces of onion, a bit of lemon zest and some of the coriander inside the cavity of the fish.
  7. Tuck a piece of lemon zest into each slit of the skin and sprinkle the rest of the onion, coriander and zest over it.
  8. Drizzle over the vinegar, oil and soy sauce.
  9. Take each side of the paper and bring it together, folding together to lightly seals the fish in. Do the same at either end. You want it to steam in the liquid.
  10. Place in the oven and bake  at 180c for about 15-20 mins (mine took 18)
  11. Open the paper and serve in the middle of the table with a fresh salad or some stir-fried mangetout and baby corn.


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