Paper-baked sea bream with mushrooms

Paper-baked sea bream with mushrooms

Orata al cartoccio con i funghi

By
From
Acquacotta
Serves
4
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

I am partial to any food preparation that is low maintenance, with a high proportion of delicious eating compared to the amount of effort put into it – and fish baked al cartoccio, or in paper, is one of those things. You bring it home, turn on the oven, stuff it with herbs, splash it with some wine or lemon juice, wrap it in paper, and 20 minutes later dinner is ready. It’s so easy and flavourful, and the fish stays moist, as it is wrapped up and cooked in all its steaming, aromatic juices.

Gilthead sea bream, a local speciality that is farmed in Orbetello’s lagoon, is ideal for this sort of treatment but you could cook any whole large fish this way – sea bass and snapper are also good. I love the combination of mare e monti, where the sea and the mountains come together so beautifully. A mixture of earthy mushrooms, tossed with some garlic, make a nice bed for the fish. You could do the same with some thinly sliced potatoes (which, like the mushrooms, will soak up the flavours of the lemon and the herbs beautifully), cooked like the mushrooms before going under the fish – but this bream is also lovely on its own.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 medium gilthead sea bream, scaled and cleaned, about 500–600 g
2 handfuls fresh herbs, such as thyme, basil, oregano, calamint, mint, flat-leaf parsley and rosemary
2 lemons, 1 sliced, 1 juiced
80ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
400g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

Method

  1. Make sure the fish have been scaled and cleaned, and remove the fins with kitchen scissors; rinse and pat dry. Cut 3 slashes about 1.5 cm deep along the fleshiest part of the fish, on both sides. Season with salt and pepper, rubbing it into the slices and skin. Sprinkle salt in the belly cavities, then stuff with about two-thirds of the herbs and a few slices of lemon to fill. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
  2. Pick the leaves from the remaining herbs. Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and the rest of the herbs and cook in the oil until golden and softened, about 5–6 minutes. Allow them to cool.
  3. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  4. Tear a large sheet of baking paper for each fish – about double the length of the fish – and distribute the mushrooms in the middle. Place the fish on top of the mushrooms, then pour over the lemon juice and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil.
  5. Wrap the fish in the paper – bring together the long edges of the paper, folding them down together so they overlap slightly. The short sides can be folded at the fish’s tail and head, towards the middle of the fish and secured with a piece of kitchen string, like a present.
  6. Bake for about 20–25 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven and let it sit, wrapped, for 5 minutes before serving. If using a different-sized fish, you may need to double-check if the fish is cooked properly. To check, unwrap the paper carefully (escaping steam is hot). Take a knife and see if the skin and flesh easily lifts off near the spine. Also look at the gashes – they should reveal opaque, soft meat. If not, wrap it back up and put it back in the oven to check in 5-minute increments.
  7. To serve, you can transfer the whole fish to a long oval plate, dribbling the juices and mushrooms over the top. But I prefer to place it right on the plate, as it is, still sitting in its paper.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again