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Mediterranean Sea Bass en Papillote

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I was treated to a delightful seafood lunch featuring a healthy, tasty Mediterranean Sea Bass en Papillote. With the Lenten season in full force, I knew I had to recreate this delicious dish at home.

Mediterranean Sea Bass en Papillote on a white dinner plate with a lemon slice and thyme garnish

Mediterranean Sea Bass en Papillote

The big question was if the picky hubby would eat more than a courtesy bite. I’d be happy to finish his portion, of course, but my fingers were crossed. After years of cooking French recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around My French Table, I was quite comfortable cooking en papillote. And besides the questionable fish (at least for the one who questions any seafood that’s not in a tuna casserole), the ingredients were straight forward. All classic Mediterranean foods. The whole process is quite easy, I promise.

Late Harvest Kitchen

This recipe is courtesy of Chef Ryan Nelson of Late Harvest Kitchen, one of our favorite local restaurants. He hosted a lunch along with  the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and demonstrated how to cook seafood en papillote, which is cooking in a parchment envelope. Our first course was a salad of greens and tender salmon tossed in a Caesar dressing with a touch of tomato paste and hot sauce, then this lovely sea bass. We were pampered!

Overhead View of Mediterranean Sea Bass on a dinner plate

What Does en Papillote Mean?

Literally, papillote is the French term for the frilly paper used to decorate the rib bones on crown roasts, ends of lamb chops, etc. But the phrase en papillote refers to baking food inside a wrapping of parchment. Chef Ryan gave us some pre-made parchment envelopes that were slick to use. Otherwise, you can easily make a packet from a half sheet of parchment paper.

On occasion, Dorie instructed us to cook in foil as well as parchment, as it’s easier to seal.  If you’re concerned about having foil touch your food, you can always wrap it in parchment first, then foil. You’ll want to leave some room for the steam to expand, so you don’t need to seal the packets up too tightly.

How to Cook Mediterranean Sea Bass en Papillote

Since the ingredients inside the parchment basically steam while in the oven, the ingredients must be nicely seasoned as well as being flavorful themselves. This was the perfect recipe to showcase this French cooking method.

  • Season the Barramundi fillets, AKA Sea Bass, generously with salt and pepper, then top with capers, olives, tomatoes, and garlic after a quick saute and deglazing with wine. So many delicious layers of flavor!
  • Next, place the fish in the bag, top with lemon slices and thyme, then half or a third of the topping. Fold over the open end of the bag tightly two or three times. It can be secured with a stapler or paper clips if the folds aren’t secure.
  • Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and cook  at 400º for about 12 minutes.
  • Generally seafood is cooked for about 10 minutes/inch of thickness.
  • The packets can be brought to the table on dinner plate, then slit with a knife to open (do this carefully to avoid getting blasted with hot steam). A fun production especially for dinner guests.
  • Use your favorite mild, white fish for this recipe like cod, halibut, branzino, flounder, talapia, perch grouper have all been offered as substitutes. The barramundi is quite thin, so you may need to adjust your baking times.

More en Papillote recipes I’ve made include Chicken, Peppers and Peas en Papillote, Bok Choy, Sugar Snap Peas and Garlic en Papillote, Salmon Fillets en Papillote, and Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote.

P.S. Bill, AKA, the picky hubby, loved this dish. I’m slowly making progress expanding his seafood repertoire!

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Overhead View of Mediterranean Sea Bass on a dinner plate

Mediterranean Sea Bass en Papillote

Mediterranean Sea Bass cooked in parchment with tomatoes, olives, capers and more!

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 17 minutes
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree, Seafood, Healthy
  • Method: Sauteing, Baking
  • Cuisine: French, French American

Ingredients

23 6-ounce sea bass fillets (I found frozen Barramundi at Whole Foods)

23 slices of lemon

23 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons capers, drained and/or rinsed of salt if salt cured

3/4 cup mixed, pitted olives (I used Kalamata and stuffed green olives)

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

3/4 cup of grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 cup dry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Parchment or parchment bags

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season fillets well with salt and pepper and to with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh thyme. Insert into parchment bag.

In a saute pan, heat oil, then add capers, olives, garlic and tomatoes and cook a few minutes until tomatoes soften. Deglaze with white wine (may use chicken broth if desired).

With a spoon, top fish with tomato mixture, then fold over the open edges of the parchment bag, securing with a stapler or paper clips if needed.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Place packets on dinner plates and carefully tear or slice open to serve.

Notes

There is definitely enough topping to make 3 servings. The original recipe was to serve 2.

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16 comments on “Mediterranean Sea Bass en Papillote”

  1. Very fresh and tender and those olives look so good too. Beautiful shots and wonderful flavours, Liz.

  2. Love that extra dose of healthy veggies with the fish! xoxo 

  3. Looks delicious Lizzy !

  4. Cooking in parchment is one area I haven’t explored … your post plus the list of similar-technique recipes should be an inspiration.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  5. I love being inspired at a restaurant and then recreating it at home! This looks so easy and yet dinner party worthy!

  6. Expanding the picky hubby’s seafood repertoire has to make dinner a little less of a challenge. I can see why he would enjoy your fish dish, not only does it sound great, it is pretty.

  7. This is the type of meal we like making in the warmer weather when Bobby can bake it on the grill. It doesn’t heat up the kitchen and the clean up is so easy. I’ve ever cooked fish this way, so I really look forward to making your recipe. It looks so good! Thanks Liz!

  8. Liz, this looks so good. Love parchment for cooking fish. And love all the beautiful colors.

  9. This is one simple and delicious weeknight meal. The great part of this is you can do this on the grill if mother nature is cooperating or bring the party inside and put it in the oven. Wishing you a super weekend!

  10. I just don’t do “en Papillote” unless it’s a recipe choice for a cooking group. No reason for that, just don’t think of it. This sounds delicious and would be perfect for a single diner (don’t discount that there are plenty of us out there who want to eat well.) I think I’d prefer a thicker white fish. Seafood Watch suggests many different varieties I could choose. Food experience, huh?

  11. Cooking fish wrapped in parchment is a treat and there are so many possibilities. Your recipe and photos are wonderful. 

  12. I spotted this beautiful dish of yours on Facebook and had to come immediately to check out the recipe! Absolutely mouthwatering and perfect for spring!

  13. Oh my that fish dinner looks amazing! It’s been quite some time since I’ve cooked anything en papillote other than potatoes on the bbq. You have inspired me to try this. I am so far behind reading your posts – where does the time go? Hugs …

  14. Lovely presentation Liz, and the Mr. would really like this.

  15. Liz, I absolutely love the flavor combination in this dish! Tomatoes, capers and olives were made for each other 🙂 Looks like and amazing meal!

  16. Sea bass is one of my favourite fish. It is a wonderful mild white fish. Loved the recipe. Thanks for sharing.

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