Sea bass en papillote with slow-cooked tomato and fennel

Sea bass en papillote with slow-cooked tomato and fennel

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy

Baking fish in a parcel is a great technique. The juices from the fish combine with the flavourings to make a delicious sauce.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 plum tomatoes
1 fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon caster sugar
basil sprigs
100g cherry tomatoes
50g pitted black olives
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3-4 tablespoons pernod or dry white wine
4 sea bass fillets, skin on, each about 140 g
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 150°C. Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment. Use a little olive oil to help stick the parchment to the baking sheet if necessary.
  2. Cut the plum tomatoes into quarters. Using a teaspoon, remove and discard the seeds. Press each tomato quarter onto a board, skin side down. Starting at the pointed end, remove the skins using a filleting knife and a zig-zag action, keeping the knife horizontal and pressed closely to the board to waste as little of the flesh as possible.
  3. Trim the root end off the fennel and finely slice lengthways, or use a mandolin. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Toss the sliced fennel and tomato quarters in the olive oil with the garlic, sugar and a basil sprig. Season well.
  4. Spread the plum tomatoes and fennel out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 40–50 minutes, or until the tomatoes have dried out and the fennel has caramelised a little.
  5. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Add them to the fennel and plum tomatoes 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. They should just start to soften but keep their shape. Remove from the oven and discard the basil sprig. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C.
  6. Leave the fennel and tomatoes to cool, then gently scoop them into a bowl; try not to break them up too much as it is much more attractive to see whole pieces in the final dish. Chop the olives in half, then stir into the mixture with the sherry vinegar and Pernod or wine. Tear in some basil leaves.
  7. Cut out 4 discs of greaseproof paper about 30 cm in diameter or at least 5 cm wider than the fillet when folded. The discs will be folded in half over the fish, so place them on appropriately sized baking sheets before filling them so there is no need to move them afterwards. You may need 1 or 2 baking sheets, depending on the width of your oven.
  8. Place a quarter of the tomato mixture on one half of each paper circle. Season the fillets and place a fillet skin side up on top of each portion of tomato mixture.
  9. Fold the paper in half over the fish fillet and fold the two open sides together, trying to make small, crisp folds to seal the parcel. Try to leave a gap all around the fish as the steam will cook the fish quickly as it circulates around the parcel, keeping it moist and allowing all the flavours to permeate its flesh.
  10. Transfer the parcels to the oven and cook for 12–18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. To test, gently press the fish through the paper – you should be able to feel the flakes of fish gently separating beneath the pressure from your fingers.
  11. Serve immediately, still in the parcels so everyone can fully appreciate the wonderful aroma as they open it up.


  • Vegetables such as mangetout or green beans can be added to the parcel and will all cook in the delicious fish juices.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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