Fish in the bag

Fish in the bag

At Home with Ben
Mark Roper

I used to cook this dish at the Atlantic in London. We would serve it at the table in the paper bag and the waiter would open it. One day a well-known actress from Eastenders ordered it. When the waiter went to clear the table, he asked how the meal was. She replied, ‘The fish was great but I don’t know about the pastry.’ Just let your guests know they shouldn’t eat the ‘pastry’!

For even cooking, ensure your fish are the same size and shape. Serve with steamed spinach.


Quantity Ingredient
50g butter
2 leeks, halved, washed and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
freshly ground white pepper
4 x 180g fillets goldband snapper or similar firm white-fleshed fish, skin off
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 telegraph cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup japanese mayonnaise


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Heat the butter in a saucepan, then add the leek and garlic. Gently sweat for 15 minutes, or until the leek is soft and without colour. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside and allow to cool.
  3. Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper. Cut out four squares of baking paper – you want the sheets to be around 30 cm × 42 cm wide. Preparing one sheet at a time, brush the centre of the paper with some olive oil and place a quarter of the leek mixture on top, followed by a fillet of fish. Arrange the cucumber slices over the top of the fish fillet, positioning them closely together so they look like fish scales. Squeeze with a little lemon juice and add a pinch of dill.
  4. Fold over two sides of paper to envelop the fish, making sure not to displace the cucumber slices. Using scissors, trim the two open edges into semicircles. Crimp the bottom edge, making firm creases to seal the parcel. Crimp most of the top edge, leaving the last corner unsealed. The parcel should resemble a pasty in shape; I like to blow air into the bag to puff it up. Pour in a little white wine, then continue crimping the last corner to completely seal the parcel. Twist the ends to secure and place the parcel on a baking tray. Complete the remaining three parcels.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. The bags should puff up if you have sealed them well. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the parcels to rest for 2–3 minutes.
  6. Combine the remaining dill, lemon juice and mayonnaise. Place the fish parcels on four plates. At the table, cut open each bag along the top crimped edge. Fold back the paper and dollop a tablespoon of the dill mayo onto each fish fillet.
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