Steamed Sea Bream “al Cartoccio”

Steamed Sea Bream "al Cartoccio"

Steaming fillets of delicate white fish in a paper parcel is such a quick and easy way to cook them and this recipe for Steamed Sea Bream al Cartoccio is no exception. The most difficult thing was making sure that the top of the parcel was well sealed! I got distracted after I had made the parcel (my friend had arrived and the first glass of wine had been poured…) and forgot to take a photo but you can see what the sealed parcel should look like here. We had this with the Roasted Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree which I posted yesterday and a green salad with a sharp mustardy dressing (salt, pepper, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp cider vinegar and 3 tsp EVOO)

A local Italian restaurant serves a seafood linguine al cartoccio and it is very easy to do as long as you undercook the pasta before it is parcelled.

Steamed Sea Bream "al Cartoccio"

Lay out the bream fillets on the prepared foil and parchment paper and season with salt, pepper and rosemary

Steamed Sea Bream "al Cartoccio"

Add the garlic, a little oil and butter before folding up into a parcel

As far as flavours go, you could use tarragon instead of rosemary and a little sprinkle of crushed toasted coriander seeds would also be lovely.  A little infused saffron would be delicious with rosemary and a mix of seafood. You could use other types of fish and seafood too but you may need more liquid and a little longer cooking time if the fish is thick.  If you are making these for more than two people or for a dinner party (and this is a fantastic template for a dinner party recipe as you can prepare the parcels beforehand and then cook them 10 minutes before you want to eat) then, parcel up the fish individually.

Steamed Sea Bream al Cartoccio

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 fillets of sea bream or other white fish
  • 3 or 4 cloves of Garlic Confit or roasted garlic – don’t use raw garlic as the flavour will be overpowering.
  • 1 tsp of the garlic flavoured oil if you are using garlic confit – optional
  • A few sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp dry white wine
  • Lemon wedges to serve

You will also need 60cm pieces of foil and parchment paper to make the parcel


  1. Pre-heat oven to 220C/425F. Put a roasting tray or sheet in to pre heat as well.
  2. Make the cartoccio by placing the foil on the worktop, shiny side down. Lay the parchment paper on top and turn over the edges to seal the two together.
  3. Lay the fish fillets in the middle of the paper.
  4. Season fillets with salt and pepper, scatter over the rosemary needles and garlic. Drizzle the garlic flavoured oil over the fish and top with the butter.
  5. Bring the short ends of the paper together over the top of the fillets and roll/fold up as tightly as you can manage so that steam cannot escape. There shouldn’t be too much space inside the parcel so make it as small as you can without crushing the fillets.
  6. Then, fold up one of the sides, again, as tightly as you can. Press down on the foil to help seal it.
  7. Tip up the open parcel slightly and pour in the wine. Seal this side tightly as well. You should have a small domed parcel that is a little larger than the fish inside.
  8. Place the parcel on the pre-heated tin and cook for 10 minutes. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before opening the parcel.
  9. The wine, oil and butter will have combined to make a small amount of delicious sauce that should be spooned over the fish when you serve it.
  10. Serve with lemon wedges.

Delicious with Roasted Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree and a green salad with a sharp dressing.


9 thoughts on “Steamed Sea Bream “al Cartoccio”

    • Hi Shanna – thank you so much for your kind words – I love quick easy cooking that tastes good! Working full time and bringing up my lovely son doesn’t leave much time for long sessions in the kitchen in the evenings. I hope you give it a go with whatever fish fillets you can lay your hands on – it is such an easy way to cook fish. Sx


  1. Pingback: Roast Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree | Selma's Table

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