I'm creating a recipe, which is essentially a duck parcel.

The problem I have is how to make a parcel.

Filo pastry worked but is too dry.

I then read Giorgio Locatelli's idea on use very fine potato sheets, where the starch will help it to glue, but I couldn't get this to work (may be I had the wrong potato, I don't know, I couldn't create a parcel, it only worked as a 'basket' with no lid).

The potato would have been great because it's not a very powerful taste and would not have overpowered the honey duck.

So, filo was too dry. Potatoes may have worked but I couldn't get it to work and of course bacon is obvious but the taste would be too over powering.

So, what else can be used to create a parcel around food?

  • 2
    Mash the potato and use it like a dough? Like Shepard's pie or gnocchi?
    – Megasaur
    Feb 9 '13 at 11:37
  • 2
    Did you blanch the potatoes before wrapping it? it will make them more pliable and less likely to break apart.
    – Brendan
    Feb 9 '13 at 15:30
  • @Brendan - Great advice, and in this case yes, for about 30 seconds - 1 minute in oil at approx 120°C. Although I think the potatoes I used were physically too small and about 2mm or 3mm thick, next time I think 1mm will be better, or even thinner.
    – Dave
    Feb 10 '13 at 11:13
  • 1
    this is a pretty famous recipe using this technique saveur.com/article/Recipes/…
    – Brendan
    Feb 10 '13 at 16:05

It's not entirely clear if this needs to be cooked after being wrapped. If you can cook it beforehand, and you really want something that has no taste at all, then you can't do much better than the technique Adria uses his tomato and black olive ravioli, which is basically to create paper-thin sheets of gelled agar and gellan, cut them into circles, and wrap. Of course the technique makes it trivially easy to adapt to other shapes and sizes. If you really want them totally sealed, a torch or even a smear of very hot water should do the trick, it'll gel again as it cools.

If this needs to actually be baked or fried, then I'd go for dumpling wrappers or gyoza wrappers, which are just circular versions of spring roll skins. This is exactly the application they exist for, and there are various kinds of rice-based skins that are so thin, they're actually translucent:


It goes without saying that white rice is pretty bland and won't add much flavour of its own.

The Cook's Thesaurus also has a long page on wrappers; if the above don't work, maybe one of their other suggestions will suit your fancy.

  • 1
    This is great. I actually have his DVD and agar but no gellan, however I will invest. Thank you
    – Dave
    Feb 9 '13 at 14:04
  • 1
    Lord, they look like jellyfish! Apr 5 '16 at 21:26

You could use baking paper - a French technique called en papillote. You just fold the paper carefully to create a good seal.

If filo was too dry you could also try a short pastry, which has more fat and thus should be softer. Another alternative is a simple Chinese-dumpling style pastry made from flour, salt and hot water, but this is perhaps not as well suited to baking.


In addition to the suggestions ElendiTheTall makes, various cuisines have a tradition of wrapping food with leaves (these are just some examples):

  • Grape leaves, as in Greek cuisine, for dolmades
  • Corn husks or banana leaves, as in various South American and South Western cuisines for tamales (possibly with a masa layer)
  • Cabbage leaves, as in various European cuisines

Another option would be wrapping the food with a flat bread after it is partially or fully cooked, such as a tortilla, as in enchiladas, burritos, taquitos, and so on from various South American and South Western cuisines.


There is Vietnamese rice paper (it is not paper, mind you: this is edible, and paper is not) that looks designed for what you have in mind.

http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2009/06/vietnamese-rice-paper-buying-tips.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banh_trang

bánh tráng needs to be rehidrated before use, but the process sounds quite easy. Then you end up with something like this:


  • Rice paper was my first thought too, but I've never tried cooking it, only in preparations when it's a final step.
    – Joe
    Feb 10 '13 at 2:03

For a more continental alternative to the ones mentioned here: a crepe. They're also easy enough to make from scratch from the most staple of ingredients.

With enough skill, you can get them to less than 1 millimeter thick, and they can obviously be cooked. If you use half-water and half milk, and oil instead of butter, you can make the flavour even more neutral.

Not sure how specific you need the parcel shape to be. It'd be easiest to just roll up the filling in them, but that might be better if the filling is cooked beforehand if you're going for a short cooking time. Otherwise the prolonged frying will make the crepe taste toasty, although honey and duck should be able to stand up to that.

If you don't need a perfect seal - say the parcels are more for presentation and delivery you could also wrap it the way galettes bretonnes are:

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