Mackerel en papillote

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Baking fish in a parcel in the best way to seal in flavour – instead of roasting or grilling the fish, the steam is kept within the parcel and gently cooks the fish, keeping it tender and moist.

In this recipe, where you use lots of aromatics in the parcel, the steam allows flavour to penetrate in to the flesh and you get a wonderful liquor that you can pour over you fish at the end.

I’m using mackerel in this recipe because it’s healthy, sustainable and it can stand up to bold flavours – however you can swap and change with whatever fish takes your fancy. The lovely thing about this recipe is that once you understand the basics you can change the fish and the ingredients to suit whatever mood you’re in/what’s in the fridge!


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. You can use either baking paper or foil – tear off a piece that will fit the mackerel and give you space to make a sort of bag around it (you don’t want the paper/foil touching the fish, it needs room to steam). If using foil place it so the shiny side will be inside the ‘bag.’

3. Give your fish a rinse and place on the flat piece of foil/paper. In the cavity put the bay leaf, garlic and parsley and a slice off the half of the lemon.

4. Squeeze the remaining lemon over the fish, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

5. Take the left hand side of the paper/foil and scrunch together to seal the edges – repeat with the right hand side, so you have a packet with your fish in the middle.

6. Place the open packet on a baking tray, add in the half glass of wine (doesn’t have to be your best, but I usually use what I am going to drink with the dish) and seal up the open top edge.

7. Place in the oven and cook for about 20 mins.

8. Serve with salad and new potatoes.

NB – This is a great show off dish for parties; either make individual bags or cook this with one large fish and take it over to the table in the bag. Open the bag at the table and the lovely aromatic steam will escape in to your eager diners’ faces. Please note that using different types/sizes of fish will alter the cooking times.


1 x whole mackerel – cleaned

1 clove of garlic – skin left on and slashed on the side

1 bay leaf

Bunch of parsley – stalks and all

Half a lemon

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Half a glass of white wine