This week, Thyme has provided us with a tasty and healthy sea bream recipe. It uses the age-old technique 'en papillote' which has a wonderful history behind it. This is a great easy option if you're having guests over for a summery lunch or dinner. You can sample Thyme's delicious food at their restaurant, Ox Barn.

En papillote...

The culinary history  

En papillote, meaning 'in parchment', is a cooking technique where the food is enclosed in paper or foil and then cooked in the oven. This technique steams the fish while enveloping it in flavour and juices. The method has been used across the world throughout history from the Far East to Europe. But it was in New Orleans where a certain French immigrant, Antoine Alciatore, developed a dish called 'pompano Montgolfier.' The dish was named after the Montgolfier brothers who were aviation pioneers and invented the first hot air balloons. Antoine's son Jules coined the phrase 'pompano en papillote' because the steam puffing up the parchment is reminiscent of a hot air balloon.

Movie recommendation!

Antoine's establishment features twice in Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK, with a cameo from the restaurant's very own Maitre d'!

Recipe: sea bream en papillote

Serves 2

Prep & cooking time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: easy


2 fillets of sea bream

1 head of fennel

1 lemon zest and juice

A pinch of chilli flakes

2 tbsp butter

160ml dry white wine

8 pink fir potatoes

Salsa verde

Large handful of parsley, chopped

4 anchovies, chopped

2 tbsp capers, chopped

2 small cloves garlic, peeled and grated

Olive oil to cover

Salt & pepper


Place the potatoes into cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Cook them for 15 minutes or until they are cooked through. Drain and peel when they are cool enough and keep to one side. Slice the fennel into thin strips and blanch in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes, then drain and set to one side.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (normal) | 180°C (fan) | gas mark 6

Tear off two squares of tinfoil and lay them flat on your worktop; they need to be large enough to encompass each fillet of fish. Next, tear off a couple of slightly smaller squares of baking parchment and lay them on top of each piece of tin foil. Place the fish fillets onto the parchment squares and season with salt and pepper. Divide the fennel, lemon, chilli and butter between the two. Next, fold up the sides of the foil to form a bag and leave a little spout to pour in the wine. Pour in the wine through the spout in each parcel. Place into a preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Make the salsa verde by combining all the ingredients and covering with olive oil. Dress the potatoes with the salsa and serve alongside the steamed fish.

About ThymeThyme

Thyme includes 32 bedrooms situated throughout the Georgian rectory, The Lodge, The Tallet and the buildings around the courtyard and gardens. Ox Barn (seats 62) offers a wonderful dining experience, with its own twist on seasonal British food.

Thyme also offers the Baa bar, meadow spa, pool, orchid house and botanical bothy. The piggery and balcony room boutiques stock Bertioli by Thyme's range of silkwear, tableware and bespoke homeware.

If that's not enough, their 'village within a village' also contains a cookery school, floristry and drawing classes, farm, kitchen gardens, orchards and water meadows. Cottages are available for private hire and you can also book the Tithe Barn for private events.

You can view our collection of Thyme recipes and our interview with Charlie Hibbert on L-Shaped.

Thyme’s room rates currently start at £335 (midweek) / £395 (Fri, Sat) per night.  These are room rates include breakfast.

Thyme, Southrop Manor Estate, Southrop, Gloucestershire, GL7 3PW | 01367 850 174 |