River Cottage Australia



Try this recipe for flathead steamed in seaweed by Paul West from River Cottage Australia.


  • For the fish:

  • One whole flathead, bream or other fish scaled and gutted, head on

  • Leather kelp* (enough to wrap the fish) rinsed and cleaned of grit

  • Pepper

  • Olive oil

  • For the Salad:

  • 4 radishes

  • Assorted salad greens for example, rocket, mustard, radicchio

  • Sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon of seaweed pickle**

  • Pepper

  • Salt (to taste)


  • 1.

    Preheat your oven to 180C.

  • 2.

    Season your fish with pepper and olive oil. If you want to salt the fish, be gentle with the seasoning because the kelp will impart some salt into the fish. Put sheets of kelp over a chopping board – make sure that the kelp is all placed lengthways, perpendicularly to you to ensure even wrapping and that the chopping board is well covered. Roll your fish in the kelp, folding the ends of the kelp over the head and back tail of the fish to make a parcel.

  • 3.

    You’ll find it useful to go around the fish twice with the seaweed. Secure the kelp with twine if you are finding it doesn’t stay in place of its own accord.

  • 4.

    Place the fish on an oiled oven tray and bake for 30 mins. You’ll find that you need the longer baking time to allow the heat to penetrate the kelp package. However, the cooking time will vary according to the size and/or kind of fish you are baking. Accordingly, check the fish after 15 mins or so by either pulling apart the wrapping slightly, or by piercing with a skewer. If you are pulling apart the wrapping, then the flesh should be opaque. If you are piercing with a skewer the skewer should pierce the wrapping and the fish to the bone, without resistance.

  • 5.

    While your fish is baking, prepare your salad. Toss the vegetables together with a generous handful of seaweed pickle and the sesame oil. Ensure you shake but don’t rinse the pickle (you want some of the brine in the salad). Season with salt and pepper and put the salad to side until the fish is ready.

  • 6.

    When the fish is cooked, take it out of the oven and break open the seaweed parcel to reveal the fish within. Serve with the salad to side.


* if you aren’t using seaweed, you can wrap your fish in any edible leaf without heavy flavour, for example, banana leaf, vine leaves, lotus leaves. If you are not using leaves, simply wrap the fish in greaseproof paper, making sure that the parcel is loose, but well - sealed. If using paper, put in a herb, such as bay or thyme and make sure your fish is well seasoned.

** replace with balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar if not using seaweed pickle. 

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