Every single time I suggest making a fish dish, Weston sort of turns up his nose and suggests something else, often beef, lamb, or pork based.  However, Alton Brown is a complete genius and I owe him a debt of gratitude for opening W’s eyes to the beauty of fresh fish! 

While watching Alton’s The Pouch Principle this past week, my dear, normally fish-isct husband suggested that he might actually eat Alton’s Red Snapper en Papillote.  Excited that I might be able to change his mind about fish in much the same way I was able to change his mind about pumpkin based dishes, we set out to gather the freshest and best ingredients we could find.  One thing we did notice, is that often an entire fish is much less expensive per pound than a comparable fish filet ($19.99/lb. of filet, and our entire 2.8 lb whole snapper was $24.99 total), so if you don’t mind a few bones, baking a whole fish in an envelope of parchment paper is probably a much more low cost option for a significant payoff! 

This dish is certainly impressive once the envelope is cut open and the lovely smells waft your way.  I guarantee, if you have a fish hater in your house, they will surely change their tune if you offer this delectable buttery fish dish to them!  I’m so glad we tried it, because you’ll be much more likely to see more fresh dish on my blog from this point forward.  Yay!  🙂


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 (2 lb.) whole red snapper, cleaned, scaled, head on
  • 2 tsp salt, plus more for the couscous
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, and more to taste
  • 1 small bunch of fresh oregano
  • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1 whole lemon, thinly sliced (we used blood oranges)   
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (Alton halves them, but I left them whole)
  • 1 cup drained and quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 Tbsp butter (I accidentally used 2 Tbsp butter, and I would do it again!)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse  your couscous in fine mesh strainer, under cold water, lay out on parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with pinch of salt. Set aside for about 10 minutes or so.

Prepare all of your accompaniments, by slicing the blood oranges, garlic, onions, and artichoke hearts.  Leave the grape tomatoes whole, if you wish.


Ensure that all of the boney fins have been trimmed from your fish.  You can have your fishmonger do this when he scales your fish, but just check to make sure he didn’t miss anything.  Our fishmonger missed the dorsal fin, so Weston kindly cut that fin off.


Cut the parchment paper into 15 by 48-inch sheet.  Fold it in 1/2 and lay it on your baking/cookie sheet.  Unfold and lay snapper diagonally on the sheet pan on top of 1 layer of parchment.

Salt and pepper the fish, inside and out. This may be a two person job.  Place herbs inside cavity of fish along with 1/2 of lemon, and 1/2 of red onion.


Arrange the couscous next to fish on all sides. Put garlic, and remaining lemon and red onion on the fish and lay tomatoes and artichoke hearts around outside of couscous, creating somewhat of a wall.


Pour wine over fish and dot with butter.  Don’t worry – the wine won’t leak out.


Fold over the edges of your parchment paper, stapling if necessary (it was very necessary for us and our extra couscous and huge fish), to create an almost airtight seal.


Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and try not to remove the fish early.  The smells coming out of the oven at minute 15 and beyond are nearly impossible to resist!


Carefully open and serve, but please be aware of bones in the fish.  For just Weston and me, we ate it straight out of the pouch after carefully moving the whole pouch to a nice, large white platter.


Just look at that delicious, moist fish meat! 


We almost ate the whole thing.  I mean, seriously.  This was probably one of my top FIVE dishes we’ve ever made.