Al cartoccio in Italian, also known as packet cooking or by the French term en pallion is a way to steam fish in it’s own juices with aromatics and vegetables. Fish is delicate and needs protection from the turbulent workings inside the pressure cooker.
I actually wrap the fish in a double layer of oven paper and tinfoil. Some pressure cooker manufacturers do not recommend putting oven paper in the pressure cooker because it may obstruct the safety valves; and, you shouldn’t really put acidic foods directly in contact with tin foil. But the double wrapping means that you get a wonderful parchment packet for presentation, with the safety and security of tin-foil that makes the paper stay put and out of harm’s way.This double layer slows the cooking down considerably because the super-heated liquid or vapor in the pressure cooker do not come in direct contact with the fish. This means that you will need to cook fish wrapped in this way a little longer than the usual recommended time.

This recipe will work with any white fish. Instead of Grouper, you can use: California sea bass, jewfish, and cabrilla. Substitutes: striped bass OR mahi-mahi OR black sea bass (flakier texture) OR red snapper (flakier texture) OR pompano OR lemonfish OR catfish – thanks to Cook’s Thesaurus for this list.

If you like, you can substitute the acid of the lemon in this recipe with a dash of white wine, or chopped tomatoes and the starch of the potatoes with three tablespoons of instant cous cous or parboiled rice. And of course, you have free reign on what fresh herbs and spices you would like to use to make your own tailored recipe!

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger steamer basket 10-12 min. High(2) Normal

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pressure Cooker Fish in a Packet (Pesce al Cartoccio)
Recipe type: Main, pressure cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Wrapping the fish protects it from the high heat of the pressure cooker and keeps it from overcooking-
  • 4 fillets of Grouper Fresh or Frozen (thawed & drained)
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • 1 White Onion, shaved into rings
  • 3 small potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs of Thyme
  • 4 sprigs of Parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  1. I like to measure out the width of my pressure cooker with parchment paper before starting. You don't want to finish your lovely packet and then discover that it doesn't fit in your pressure cooker! To do this, cut a long piece of parchment paper, lay your parchment paper over your pressure cooker, and fold it to fit about one inch (or 3cm) from each side - see photo. Now, you have your parchment creases are your packet "guidelines"!
  2. Use a mandolin on the thinnest setting to get the potatoes and onions really thin. Lay out your parchment paper, and layer the ingredients in the following order:
    Swirl of olive oil
    Single layer of thin potato slices
    Salt and Pepper and swirl of olive oil
    Fish Fillet
    Salt & Pepper and swirl of olive oil
    A couple of onion rings
    Lemon Slices
    Pinch of Salt
    Swirl of olive oil
  3. Fold your paper packet.
  4. Next, cut a long piece of foil and wrap the paper packet snugly inside the tin foil.
  5. Prepare pressure cooker by pouring in two cups of water, and the steamer basket. You can cook about two fillets at a time, or if using a tall pressure cooker, make a second layer using another steamer basket or trivet - just make sure that the packets have space all around for the steam to come in contact with and heat them.
  6. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
  7. Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Lock the lid, and cook for 12 minutes at high pressure.
  8. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure through the valve.
  9. Take out the packets and slide the parchment paper packet out of the tin foil onto individual plates.
  10. Serve with a pair of scissors or tear the paper open right before eating.

vitaquick fissler pressure cookerpressure cooker steamed fish in vitaquick fissler pressure cooker

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  1. I really like the presentation you have. This is a clean and healthy recipe. I believe the pressure cooker is an underrated item for the kitchen. Great work.

  2. Thanks for having this site! I tried this as my first attempt with my new Fagor Duo set that I received for Christmas.

    I used pollack and had to put it back in again, but the second time I didn’t turn it down so low. Yum! Only thing I would change would be the order – we had lemony onions – think I’d put the onions under the fish. Looking forward to the Basics in January!

  3. Hi Amy, glad it turned out well for you! Great advice about the order- “lemony onions” are not for everyone.



  4. this is one recipe I never tried with pressure cooker – I usually find the half an hour required with a traditional oven more than acceptable. But this is more cleaning friendly – I’ll let you know when I try this!

  5. Is it absolutely necessary to wrap with the aluminum foil in addition to the parchment paper?

    1. The aluminum foil helps the parchment stay put. You could wrap some string around the parchment, instead. But i would pressure cook for a little less time because the aluminum foil also adds a layer of protection to prevent the fish from over-cooking.



  6. I have always been a little leery about pressure cooking fish but have been pleasantly surprised when I did try it.

    I steamed frozen fish for 2 or 3 minutes without paper in a ceramic bowl. Was quite good.

    I did this today with parchment only as I don’t use lemon on fish and it was better. Same fish from same bag. 3 minutes.

    So easy. Thanks.

    1. Interesting! Wrapping fish tightly probably kept in more of its juices and cooked it slightly less.



      1. Could be. As often happens you were my inspiration.

  7. Great site, so I won’t be too upset with your French, but the word is en papillion, in parchment.

    1. Laura uses * Italian * parchment. Not butterflies. ;)
      French doesn’t enter the equation.

  8. Sorry en papillote

  9. Can you use a instant pot to make this? For how long do you cook, what setting, qtr or npr?
    Thank you!

    1. Yes, you can make this in the Instant Pot. I updated the recipe instructions to include the cooking time information. The pressure cooker is opened with “normal” release which, just means opening the valve and letting the pressure out. Here is more information on different pressure releases:



  10. Would you still use the same time if you were just doing one package? I love steamed fish but only really cook it for myself. I can’t wait to try this!

    1. Yes, the pressure cooking time is the same. : )



  11. This looks like a great easy recipe for me to try as I am new to cooking, and have never prepared fish before in my life. Two questions:

    Can this be successfully made with sea trout? It’s what I have in the freezer. :)

    Will this make the IP, and more importantly the silicone sealing ring in the lid, smell fishy? My partner HATES fish and cannot stand the smell, so that would be a deal breaker to trying this recipe.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Purchase colored silicone rings. Pick a color & only use it for fish.

  12. I just spent two months in Connecticut at my sister’s home – I was on cooking detail for the duration of my stay. This meant having dinner ready every night for my sister, my 5 year old nephew and of course for me.

    I can not tell you the skepticism I encountered when I announced pressure cooked seafood – salmon in this case. Well you will be happy to know that after the first bite – my sister became a believer! My nephew also approved but he did not have any preconceptions… And for the record I used a Fagor Rapida.

    Anyway – my sister told her friends how wonderful this recipe was – so you have a few more HIP PC fans in CT and NYC. :)

    Grazie Laura!

    1. Sandro, so happy to hear this technique turned you into the dinner hero! ; )



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