Snapper Baked in Parchment Handbag with Clams, Fennel and Chorizo

9:00 pm on 15 August 2005


The idea came after the discovery of my wife Jayne's fetish for hand bags, all colours, shapes and sizes. In the kitchen we also had a bag of sorts the classic papillote where food was baked in heart shaped paper. The fold and use of chopsticks as a handbag clasp is i think more glamorous. Its first first catwalk outing all be it in miniature was for the Gianio Varasce exhibition at Te Papa (National Museum of New Zealand) there it held cauliflower cavair, scallop and ginger tabaco, each bags paper hand printed and looking like a be jewelled clutch purse.

(Serves 6)


  • 6 x 200gm skin on scaled snapper fillets
  • 400g choirzo
  • 150g shaved fennel bulb
  • 36 clams in the shell
  • 24 kalamata olives
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced.
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemons
  • 6 tsp unsalted butter


Cut chorizo into 30 slices. Heat a little a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat, fry the choirzo slices on both sides remove from pan add the garlic and sauté in the oil from the choirzo for a minute, add the fennel and sauté for 30 seconds more, remove from pan. Parchment handbag. Cut 6 pieces of baking paper to 30cmx60cm and brush lightly with a little olive oil. In the middle place saute fennel and garlic mixture, scatter over the choirzo. Top with a snapper fillet and 6 clams, ½ bay leaf, 1 sprig thyme,4 olives and 1 tsp butter. Season with freshly milled black pepper and sea salt. Fold the sides in to meet in the middle, fold the ends in 3cm to form a neat edge. Bring the ends together to meet in the middle so that the 3cm folded edge stan vertically up against each other. Clasp with disposable chopsticks by sliding the vertical edges between the 2 parts of the chopstick. Pre heat a baking sheet in a 225ºC oven for 20 minutes. Place each handbag on the pre-baking sheet allowing a good amount of space between each bag. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes. To serve: Remove from the oven,place in the middle of a large plate.Let your guests un clasp the chopsticks, fold back the paper and there you have it simply accompanied with a half lemon, large wild rocket salad and chargrilled baby roma tomatoes still on the vine. Great summer food and in the winter with heavily roasted vegetables.

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