alertTo reduce delays and eliminate customs fees, we now ship from the UK, US (for US customers) and the Netherlands (for EU customers). Please visit our shipping page for the latest, detailed information. (Last updated June 24nd, 2021)

December 13th Advent Calendar: ADVENT-urous cooking! Fish in Papyrus

Photo by ©Jeroen Savelkouls.

For December 13th's little surprise, we have been lucky enough to have our resident chef, Manon Henzen, of the history culinary food blog eet verleden grace us with an appropriately festive fish recipe for your holiday celebrations. Many cultures include fish at the Christmas table, so why not include something Roman at yours this year? Here is her fantastic recipe for Fish in Papyrus. 

Fish wrapped in papyrus

Even though the ancient Roman kitchen can be a bit strange at first, it has loads of delicious recipes once you have gotten used to the flavours. One of my favourite recipes with garum from De re coquinaria is fish wrapped in papyrus.

Sauce with sardines. The stuffed sardines should be prepared as follows. Remove the bones and grind pennyroyal, cumin, pepper kernels, mint, walnuts, honey. Fill it and stitch it up. Roll it in the paper and put it place it on the stove in a pot with a lid. Season with oil, caroenum and allec.


4 sheets of baking paper
cooking rope
4 big, fresh sardines, gutted
100 ml white wine
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs honey
2 tsp garum
1 tsp black or long pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 sprigs of mint
2 sprigs of pennyroyal (if you cannot find pennyroyal you can also use 2 sprigs of mint extra)
4 tbs walnuts


Put the wine, olive oil, honey, garum, pepper, and cumin in a bowl and stir until you have a smooth dressing. Remove the mint and pennyroyal leaves from their stems and chop the leaves finely. Add to the dressing. Chop the walnuts.

Take a sheet of baking paper and put one fish on top. Sprinkle the inside and outside of the fish with the dressing and add some chopped walnuts. Fold the paper around the fish and wrap it like a present. Secure it using the cooking string. Repeat this for every fish and put them on a baking tray.

Stew the fish for approximately 15 minutes in a preheated oven (180 C/350F) until they are done. Cooking time depends on the size of the fish. Serve them while still in the paper with some finely chopped fresh mint and roasted walnuts. You can add these to the fish after opening the paper, to give them even more flavour and texture.

Enjoy! Have a wonderful holiday season! 

For more fantastic historic recipes, please visit: eet verleden!

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Subscribe to Ancient History

***This was the Karwansaray Publishers Advent Calendar post for December 13th. Any special offers are only valid on the day the door is opened. Check back tomorrow!***

Post your comment

Karwansaray Publishers