Sea Bream Cooked in the Thai Style

“For guaranteed potency, Marcus Gavious Apicius, the Roman gourmet and lover of refined luxury, swore by tuna, red mullet, sea bream and squid.”

Lana Citron, Edible Pleasures

My day job as a marketing director involves a lot of attention to our digital marketing activities. We’re supported by a specialist who carries out the programming of the back end of our sites and also gives valuable general marketing advice. A couple of times a year we meet in the middle of our geographic locations – the Red House restaurant in Whitchurch (sadly now closed).

At our last meeting we all had the sea bream with prawn risotto, all thought it was excellent, and this is my attempt to replicate it – or rather improve a little on it. The Red House fillets were fried, I suspect in a lime chilli butter (go here for the recipe for that). But I think, if you have the time, this is an even better way of cooking them.

Go here for the recipe for the bed of prawn risotto on which to serve the sea bream fillets. Alternatively they are just as good served plain with pak choi.

Which is the best sea bream to buy?

The best tasting sea bream is the gilt-head sea bream (so called because of the gold stripe between its eyes). The gold theme is a constant in all its translations – Dorade in Germany, Dorada in Spanish, Orata in Italian and Portuguese, Orada in Serbia and Slovenia.

gild head bream
I ordered a mixed seafood platter at a roadside restaurant in Sardinia, and this is what came!

Sea bream cooked en papillote

In the method in this post the fish is cooked en papillote (it’s French and means ‘in parchment’) – wrapped in baking paper and effectively steamed. You can prepare this ahead of time and freeze once you’ve wrapped it up. Then it only needs 8-10 minutes cooking – really useful

Or you can leave it prepared in the fridge for up to five hours – but after that it begins to ‘cook’ in its own acidity. Serve the parcels on your plates so that each individual can open them and catch the escaping aroma – adds to the anticipation of eating.

sea bream en papillotte
Made en papillotte it can be easily frozen and quickly reheated.

Recipe for sea bream cooked in the Thai style

Serves 2


  • 4 sea bream fillets
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ teasp dried chillies
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass
  • handful of coriander
  • ½ tsp fish sauce (or use Patum Pepperium if you don’t have any fish sauce. The fish sauce is effectively the salt in this recipe, and the dried chillies take the place of pepper so no seasoning is needed)
  • 1 tsp root ginger (peel the knobble you want with a teaspoon and grate. Keep the rest in the freezer and use as desired)
  • ½ tsp sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (use the Aga roasting oven).
  2. Zest and then slice the lime.
  3. Cut the bottom two-thirds of the lemon grass away and use this – throw away the top third. Then cut it in half lengthways. The main flavour is in the green stalk in the centre, bash/press this with the flat of a knife to release.
  4. Chop the coriander, stalks and all.
  5. Mix all the ingredients together except for the fillets.
  6. Cut a couple of pieces of greaseproof paper – place two fillets on each, top with the herby mixture and wrap (see below for how the make the parcels – if I use paper I turn the parcels over at the end to stop them unwrapping).
  7. Cook for eight to twelve minutes depending on the size of the fish.
sea bream en papillotte
sea bream en papillotte
This post is dedicated to Mark Tansey.


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