How to Oven-Bake Fish

Fish is a great source of protein and essential oils. It’s also fairly easy to tell when it’s cooked – the flesh goes from being translucent (mostly see-through) to opaque.

Fish is one of my favourite foods, but it can be dry and tough when over-cooked. That’s why I like this technique; it gently steams the fish and gives you a bit of leeway in cooking times. The fancy name for this technique is cooking en papillote, which is just French for in parchment. I usually use foil though.

You will need:

  • aluminium foil
  • a baking tray
  • an oven
  • oven gloves

and the ingredients:

  • 1 fillet of fish per person
  • a little lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt

Start by turning on your oven to Gas Mark 4, 180° (160° fan).

Cut pieces of aluminium foil to size. It needs to be big enough to go around your fillet; I find that a square about half the width of the roll fits most pieces of fish.

hand drawing of a square of aluminium foil

Put your fish in the middle of the foil, and add a little sprinkle of lemon juice and salt.

hand drawing of a piece of salmon sitting in the middle of a square of aluminium foil

Fold the foil up around the edges of the fish, leaving space around the edges and sides, and roughly pinch it together at the top. The aim here is to make a little fish parcel that can fill up with steam, but it needs to let some of the steam escape so that it doesn’t burst.

hand drawing of a piece of salmon sitting inside an aluminium foil parcel



Place your foil parcel(s) on a baking tray and bake in the oven. Oily fish like salmon will take 20-25 minutes, while white fish like cod take only 10-15 minutes to cook.


After the cooking time has passed, open the fish parcel and check that the fish is cooked through. (Be careful – it’s hot!)


photograph of a cooked salmon fillet, served with sweet potato wedges and stir-fried vegetables
Sweet potato wedges and a rainbow of vegetables are delicious with fish!

You can try out a lot of different flavours in these little fish parcels, which makes them really versatile! Why not try adding some herbs like parsley or lemongrass, or spice it up with a pinch of chilli. You could also replace the lemon juice with vinegar for a different twist.

Remember to wash up and then reuse or recycle your aluminium foil!

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