Leatherjacket is a superb fish to be treated this way, as the flesh falls from the bone and the flavours are all trapped in the foil and help enrich the sauce.
You can cook this in baking paper or bake it in a covered tray or dish. Either way, the idea is that the herbs, wine and lemon scent the fish while keeping it moist.
- 2 x 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) whole leatherjacket trunks, gutted
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
- 4 thin red onion slices
- 4 thin lemon slices
- a good splash (about 1–2 tbsp) white wine
- 1 handful mixed soft herbs, such as basil, tarragon, oregano and flat-leaf (Italian) parsley or chervil
- a little extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), or if you have an open barbecue, light the wood and burn it down to coals.
Rub the leatherjacket all over with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay some modern banana leaf (foil) – enough to wrap the fish – on a clean work surface. You may want to use two layers as most domestic foil is thin and weak. Place half the onion and lemon slices on the foil, top with half the herbs and place the leatherjackets on top. Layer the remaining onion and lemon over the fish, drizzle with the wine and generously scatter the remaining herbs over. Drizzle with a thread of olive oil.
Draw the foil up around the leatherjacket – the idea is to keep a little air in the parcel with the fish. Pinch the edges together and fold over, then draw up and fold over the sides to make a sealed parcel, so that none of the cooking juices can escape.
Place the parcel in a baking dish (or place in the hot coals) and bake for about 15–25 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
Serve the leatherjacket with the juices as a sauce, scattering the onion and lemon over if you like.
Recipe and image from The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara (Murdoch Books, $49.99, hbk).