Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio: Baked Seafood Pouches

Make this dish a staple for your next Italian meal. Once you open the seafood pouches after baking the aroma that fills the room will be unforgettable.
By Rowena Dumlao Giardina

Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Baked Seafood Pouches)
The best part of this dish is when I snip off the string that ties the pouch. Then a whiff of the incredible scent of the sea and herbs greets me.

Just for a few seconds, I close my eyes and enjoy the aroma of the contents of the pouch in front of me. The heat and steam intensifies the flavors that makes me think of only one thing. My, that smells fresh and healthy! I love seafood and if you make me choose between them and meat, I would choose seafood without blinking an eye.

If ever you are going to dine in my house, most probably, you would be having this dish for main course. I like serving this to my dinner guests because of its simplicity in preparation. With a 4-course dinner to prepare, this is one of the best options to serve. I just put together the ingredients on a big piece of parchment paper, sometimes, the seafood changing, depending on the catch of the day, then I tie the paper and bake it in the oven for half an hour. Just the right timing is essential here because it has to come out after the second course (which is the pasta).

Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Baked Seafood Pouches) 2

What do I do? Italian dinners have to work on a good synchronization of succeeding courses. So when I plan to serve this, I already prepare the pouches a few hours in advance, making sure that there is not much liquid, just the drizzling of the oil, then refrigerate them. Before serving the appetizer, I already preheat the oven and when it reaches the right temperature, I start baking the pouches, usually in the middle of the appetizer course. The second course, which is the pasta, comes in, and after a few minutes of having a break from the food, the pouches are cooked and ready to be served as the third and main course.

Think fresh, and don’t use the frozen ones if you are making these pouches. Because of the simplicity of the recipe, every individual ingredient can be tasted. And the over-all flavor relies on how fresh the ingredients are.

Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Baked Seafood Pouches)
Here is an easy recipe that anyone can prepare at home using fresh seafood ingredients, whatever is the catch of the day, thrown together in parchment pouches and baked in the oven. Opening the pouches is a totally wonderful experience as you get a whiff of the flavors of the sea.
Recipe Type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 2 medium whole fish, scaled, gutted & head discarded then halved
  • 2 cups clams
  • 12 big shrimp
  • 8 mantis shrimp
  • 2 cups mussels
  • 4 small squid, sliced
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 twigs fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 395 degrees F.
  2. Prepare 4 large pieces of parchment paper and 4 food strings to tie them up.
  3. In every pouch, divide all the ingredients equally.
  4. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Notes: You can change the kinds of seafood to put in the pouches as long as they are all fresh. You can prepare this a few hours before your guests arrive making sure that the seafood don't have excessive liquid that can tear the parchment paper at the bottom part. It is best to serve this as soon as it comes out from the oven.

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