‘En papillote’ is my favourite method of cooking fish. Sealing everything up in a parcel allows the flavours to infuse, steaming the fish so it doesn’t dry out; instead the flesh is incredibly fragrant and juicy. There’s also minimal prep involved because it works best to leave the fish whole.
1 whole black bream
1 fennel bulb
1 large beetroot (any colour)
Salt & pepper
Coriander, roughly chopped to garnish at the end
Juice & zest of 1 lime
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
½ a sliced chilli
1 tbsp soy
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Finely slice the fennel, beetroot and radishes. A mandoline is best for this but if you don’t have one just use a really sharp knife. Place in a bowl, toss with a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside – don’t throw away the squeezed lemon.
For the Asian dressing: grate the lime and the ginger into a bowl, deseed and finely slice the chilli into rounds (again, a mandoline is much quicker for this), add the rest of the liquids, whisk together and set aside.
Diagonally score both sides of the fish using a sharp knife, leaving roughly one centimetre between each score.
Tear off a large sheet of baking parchment and place your bream in the centre. Cut the previously squeezed lemon into chunks and push inside the stomach of the fish.
Now arrange the beetroot, fennel and radish salad around the fish and spoon the dressing over the fish and salad, making sure it seeps into the scores in the fish’s sides. Finish with a generous crack of salt and pepper and parcel it all up, rolling over the long sides of the parchment and twisting each end tightly shut.
Place on a tray and bake in the oven for no longer than 15minutes. The juices released from the bream while cooking act as a delicate fish sauce for the Asian dressing, completing the flavours of the dish. While the fish is in the oven, you can wash and chop the coriander and prepare a side to accompany the dish. Mixed rice or boiled and lightly crushed new potatoes with some chilli oil works a treat!