Saturday, 20 July 2013

On the barbeque: fish in newspaper

I always imagine a fisherman invented this technique. You are next to a river, dusk falls, you have a bunch of fish and you are hungry. You have no pan to cook anything on, but you light a fire with a newspaper. Eureka! 
You dip the newspaper in the river, wrap the fish in it, put it in the embers. When the newspaper is dry, the fish is cooked.
It's that easy. 
Last night my stoner friend Jim from Manchester came over. Yes him who got me in so much trouble with Kirstie Allsopp.*
I sent the teen to get a large sea bass from the local fishmongers, we have two in Kilburn, one was closed for Ramadan.  Turns out they only had two small ones, one wild, one farmed. They were a bit floppy without the rigor mortis you associate with really fresh fish. I normally get my fish from @chelseafish whose supplies are spanking fresh but I need to do this in advance and in large quantities. 

For four

1 newspaper
1 large (1 kilo) sea bass, gutted and scaled
1 orange, sliced finely
Pink peppercorns
1 campfire or BBQ, burnt down to embers

Wet the newspaper thoroughly in cold water. Wash the fish and place it on top of the folded out newspaper. Put the orange slices, salt and pink peppercorns in the cavity of the belly. Wrap the fish in the newspaper, folding over the ends.
Put the wet newspaper fish bundle on the ember part of the fire. Leave till the paper is yellow and dry, about 20 minutes.
Lift the paper out of the fire onto a tray or plate and carefully unwrap. The skin will come off onto the paper most likely. Serve half each of the upper side to two people. Cut the spine at the neck with a sharp knife, lift it out and back, exposing the bottom half of the fish. Cut this in half and serve to the other guests.
Nice with a Portuguese white from @winetrust100, avocado and spinach salad and fresh home-baked bread. If you want a different flavour, use a different newspaper, say a broadsheet rather than a red top.

*He made me get stoned the night before an appearance on the Kirstie Allsopp show where I was showing how to make gingerbread houses. The roof of my house wouldn't stick on and I got the giggles. Perfect goodie goodie class prefect Kirstie of course got her roof on. The whole piece was cut down to a couple of minutes, barely featuring me. Despite the fact I'd spent literally days, in a heatwave, making 7 gingerbread houses, 2 complete, several in different stages of construction, you'd think she'd made the bloody gingerbread houses!


  1. You'll find that gilt-head bream works better than sea bass using the above method as the skin stays on the bream every time. Great post by the way.

    1. Thanks drumshag. Er are you a drummer and do you do alot of shagging? Not worked with bream but I know the recipe also works well with trout.

  2. What a wonderful idea! Though prefer lemon!

    As above, I agree, sea bream is a hardier fish for BBQs....
    from a greek sailor & fish-griller on beaches...

    I come ashore and cook my fish (without paper) over a fire of burning sticks, brush and wild herbs, sometimes stuck through a stick.

    Eaten with your hands, the best way to eat fish!

    1. Ooh that sounds so lovely. I wish I was on a Greek beach cooking a fish on a stick on a fire of wild herbs right now. You can use lemon too obviously, I like to use orange as a change.
      I'm going to do this recipe again next week, will order sea bream.

    2. I made it again last night with sea bream, but the skin came off again! Actually I don't like fish skin so that's fine really.

  3. So that's what happened on Kirstie's show with you! :) The recipe does also sound awesome though I might exclude the head as whole fish WITH heads kind of freak me out!

    1. Yup. Ended my TV career I expect. Anyway apparently TV isn't interested in anyone white or over 30 (according to a TV agent).


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