An ideal fish for roasting or baking, red snapper has long been popular in the USA, the West Indies and South America and is now widely available.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Cut out 4 foil circles large enough to fold in half and wrap each fish loosely inside one, crimping the edges to seal them well.
Sweat the leeks in the butter for a few minutes until soft. This eliminates some of the water from the vegetable.
Pile the leek equally on the four foil circles, lay the fish on top, spoon over the butter, season with salt and pepper and place a piece of bay leaf on top of each. Fold the foil over and crimp the edges to make a moisture-resistant seal.
Place the four papillotes in an ovenproof dish in which they will just fit and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Open one papillote and test the fish by pushing the tip of a sharp knife in at the backbone and lifting gently. If the flesh comes away easily it is done. If not, reseal and cook for 5 minutes more.
Serve with plain boiled basmati rice or small boiled potatoes. For those who prefer, substitute olive oil for the butter. Flat-leaved parsley is an appropriate garnish.
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.