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Sea Bream In An Envelope

“Sea bream” is the new officially-recognized name for sheepshead, which needed a new name. It’s really a great fish. This recipe is very light–nothing like the “en papillote” dishes we often do around here. You bake the fish in a tight envelope of foil or parchment paper. The steam coming from the fish and the seasoning vegetables cook the fish gently, losing none of its flavor.

Fish steamed in paper

  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 12 large white grapes
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup dry or sweet white wine
  • 1/2 rib celery, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 small carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber or zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 8 sea bream (sheepshead) fillets (trout or flounder would also work), about 4 oz. each
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. Tear off four sheets of aluminum foil or parchment paper, about 12 inches wide by 18 inches long. Rub the softened butter in the center half of each sheet.

2. Peel the grapes and slice them into small coins.

3. Place a sprig of parsley and a fourth of the celery on one side of the foil sheet. Place two fish fillets on top of the parsley and celery. Top with the grapes and tomatoes, then the cucumber or zucchini. Sprinkle a little white wine over the fish, and season with salt and pepper or Creole seasoning.

4. Fold the foil over. Fold the edges and crimp to make a tightly-sealed envelope. Repeat the process for the remaining fish.

5. Place the envelopes on a baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 12 minutes. The envelopes should puff up somewhat.

6. Serve the fish in the envelope on the plate. Each guest will open his or her envelope, and the aromas will waft up right into their nostrils.

Serves four.

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