Gurbell [meagre in English] is one of the most delicious fish that is available locally. It has a firm and fleshy texture, with a mild taste that will please both fish lovers and those who are not regular fish eaters. When cooked, it almost melts in your mouth. Surprisingly, chicken stock is a great base for cooking meagre. The fish overpowers the taste of the chicken stock, to produce very delicious flavours.


A quick way to cook meagre, especially if it is a large fish and you wish to leave it whole is ‘al cartoccio’ where it very rapidly steams in an infusion of stock.  If it is filleted, it takes around 12 minutes but I like the idea of leaving it whole and taking it to the table with a mix of vegetables or Maltese style roasted potatoes with fennel seeds.   Allow 150g to 200g of filleted meagre per portion.

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Gurbell al Cartoccio with roasted fennel potatoes

Category: Fish and seafood

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Gurbell al Cartoccio with roasted fennel potatoes

How to cook meagre [gurbell]


  • 1 large meagre
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 large cloves garlic cut into halves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to season
  • A bunch of fresh mint and fresh parsley
  • Baking paper and tin foil
  • For the roasted fennel potatoes:
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • Fresh mint leaves


  1. Ask your fishmonger to clean, gut and de-scale the meagre but do not remove the head or tail. Rinse the fish and pat it dry with some kitchen towel.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  3. Cut a large piece of baking paper about 3 times larger than the size of the fish.
  4. Place the baking paper on a flat surface.
  5. Use a brush dipped in olive oil to lightly coat the baking paper.
  6. Brush the meagre with olive oil on both sides. Place on the baking paper. Cut up 2 lemons into thin slices.
  7. Squeeze the juice of the other lemon and keep aside.
  8. In the cavity of the fish, neatly place the slices of lemon and then season with salt and pepper.
  9. Put the four garlic halves on top of the lemons and then half the fresh parsley and mint, roughly chopped.
  10. Drizzle a few drops of lemon juice and some olive oil.
  11. Lay the meagre carefully on the baking paper. Drizzle the top of the fish with olive oil and some more lemon juice.
  12. Wrap the fish neatly in the baking paper. Then wrap it in tinfoil.
  13. Place the parcel on a large baking tray and bake in a hot oven. Calculate that meagre weighing 500g needs half an hour at 200°C when it is wrapped in foil.
  14. To check if it is cooked, simply poke with a fork. It is cooked when the fish flakes.
  15. To serve, garnish the whole fish with the rest of the fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and arrange some more fresh herbs and lemon slices in the cavity.
  16. Add some sliced cherry tomatoes and olives. Allow the fish to rest for five minutes before serving.
    And for the roasted Fennel Potatoes
  1. Grease a flat ovenproof dish with olive oil.
  2. Cut the potatoes into very thin slices with the skin on and using your hands mix in some olive oil, sea salt and crushed fennel seeds.
  3. Overlap the slices neatly on an ovenproof dish.
  4. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and spread around with a brush. Do not overdo it. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle more crushed fennel seeds and cook in oven for about 40 minutes depending on how crusty you like your potatoes.
  5. Garnish with whole fresh mint leaves and serve with the meagre al cartoccio.


This is a gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, nut-free, diabetic-friendly recipe with no added sugar.

Trade Enquiries:
Filipo Berio Olive Oil available at Rimus Group
Kitchenware by Pedrini, Prestige and Bialetti at K&Co, Telephone 79415384
Disposables by AMC
Fresh Vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscars Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [organic]

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