Sea Bass Wrapped in Vine Leaves

As we all know, eating less meat and more fish is best. However, cooking it often leaves a lingering smell in the home. Over the years I have devised little ways to enable me to cook fish on a regular basis without my house smelling like a fishmonger’s stall.

This is what I do to avoid my house smelling of fish:

  1. Cook you fish en papillote.
  2. Open a window in the kitchen and close any that give out to the rest of the house.
  3. Light a scented candle.
  4. Place a lemon or orange peel on the burner when you are in the kitchen.
  5. Wash up used utensils and plates in cold water adding a few drops of lemon or vinegar to the rinse.
  6. Finally, weather permitting, barbecue your fish out of doors!
  7. It is important to remember that fresh fish does not reek a strong stench but rather brings whiffs from the sea.
Cooking en papillote simply means wrapping in parchment paper and then roasting. In the Mediterranena, fish is often wrapped in vine leaves and cooked on cinders; a method which prevents charring and drying. It also gives the fish a smoky yet fruity taste, leaving it moist and delicious.
 In Lebanon lemon and fig or vine leaves are sometimes used to wrap red mullets or sea bass whereas at the other end of the globe, the Amazonian people wrap the impressive looking catfish in banana leaves.

If you are in the Mediterranean in the height of summer, you will find that fresh vine leaves are too tough to be rolled into warak inab (stuffed vine leaves) but do not discard them, they are perfect for wrapping fish.  I also like to fill the cavity with herbs to impart all the aromas. It is usually served with a tahini-based sauce but in this case it is best keep it simple and add a little olive oil.

Sea bass wrapped in vine leaves

4  small sea bass
20 g dill
20 g flat leaf parsley
20 g fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
20 g chives
Coarse sea salt
Olive oil

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C
  2. Chop the herbs finely. 
  3. Lay the 2 vine leaves per fish on baking tray. Sprinkle a little of the herb mixture. 
  4. Fill each fish with salt and herb mixture. 
  5. Place the fish on the vine leaves, add more herbs, and sprinkle with salt and olive oil.  
  6. Wrap the leaves over the fish, tucking it under to keep it sealed. 
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  8. Uncover, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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