Around the world in 80 dishes No.4: Greece

Gilt-head sea bream baked in parcels by Vefa Alexiadou

Ingredients to serve 4

2 gilt-head sea bream or porgy, about (750 g) each, scaled, cleaned and filleted

salt and pepper

generous half cup (135 ml) olive oil, plus extra for brushing

2 potatoes, sliced into rounds

1 small fennel bulb, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped

1 courgette, sliced

250 ml dry white wine

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

1 large tomato, sliced into rounds

4 fresh rosemary sprigs

Method

Fish has been an essential part of Greek cuisine since the start of Hellenic civilisation. Greeks still consider their local waters to be the best source of fish. The important thing is that the fish is fresh. Look for red gills, bright eyes and shiny scales. The flesh should be soft but springy. Fresh fish has a clean, pleasant smell of seawater.

Remove any pin bones from the fish with tweezers, season with salt and pepper, brush with oil, and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 10 minutes.

Heat two-and-a-half tablespoons of the oil in a pan. Add the fennel, carrot, celery and courgette and cook over a high heat, stirring frequently, for five minutes. Pour in half the wine and let the alcohol evaporate, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the dill, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

Heat two and a half tablespoons of the remaining oil in a non-stick skillet or frying pan. Cook the fish fillets, skin side down, in batches for a few minutes until lightly browned.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Cut four pieces of greaseproof paper into 30x40cm rectangles. Make a bed of potato slices in the centre of each rectangle. Spread one quarter of the vegetables on top of the potatoes and top with the fish, skin side down. Place a tomato slice and a rosemary sprig on each fish. Sprinkle one tablespoon each of olive oil and wine over each, and season with salt and pepper.

Fold the sides over the fish and twist the edges to seal. Place in a roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes. Serve in the parcels.

.

From Vefa's Kitchen by Vefa Alexiadou (Phaidon £24.95). Photograph by Edward Park

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