Baked Fish with Chermoula and Onion Farofa

Everyone will love unwrapping this parchment-cooked whole fish at the table.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    45 minutes


By Manu Buffara

Published on March 28, 2024

This parchment-baked fish recipe by Brazilian chef Manoella “Manu” Buffara is one of her childhood favorites, dating back to when her family lived in Paranaguá, a southern port city on the Atlantic Ocean. She serves it with farofa, a classic side dish of toasted cassava (manioc) flour that she jazzes up with sautéed onions. You can make this en papillote recipe with sea bass or sea bream, which is also known as dorade, orata, and porgy.

Featured in “Fish Friday Around the World” by Shane Mitchell.


For the chermoula:

  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped (2 Tbsp.)
  • ½ small bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (⅓ cup)
  • ½ small bunch parsley, coarsely chopped (½ cup)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fish:

  • 2 whole sea bass or sea bream (about 1½ lb. each), cleaned and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemon slices, plus more for serving
  • 2 large bay leaves, crushed

For the farofa:

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped (⅓ cup)
  • 1½ cups fine manioc (cassava) flour
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1½ tsp.)
  • Kosher salt


Step 1

Make the chermoula: To a food processor, add the oil, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro, and parsley, and purée. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and set aside.

Step 2

Cook the fish: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Preheat a baking sheet. Cut two pieces of parchment large enough to fit an entire fish, then fold each parchment in half. Using a sharp knife, cut three diagonal, parallel slashes crosswise into the skin of each fish. Season with salt and black pepper. Place one fish on each parchment, divide the lemon and bay leaves evenly, and top each fish with 1 tablespoon of chermoula. Fold the sides of the parchment to seal, then arrange the packets in a single layer on the preheated baking sheet. Bake until the fish is cooked through, 18–25 minutes.

Step 3

Make the farofa: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not colored, 5 minutes. Add the manioc flour, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring continuously, until the flour is dry and toasted, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then stir in the parsley and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.

Step 4

Place each parchment packet on a plate. Unwrap and serve with the farofa, remaining chermoula, and more lemon slices.

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