Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recipe: Fish en Papillote (Fish Cooked in Parchment)

It blows my mind that it’s taken me this long to try this method of cooking fish. It always looks so elegant and dramatic on TV, especially when hot steam wafts out of the just-opened parcels of fish.

In reality, getting a tilapia facial is neither elegant nor dramatic, but the meal that follows absolutely is. Since the wine gently steams the fish, it stays incredibly moist and flakes effortlessly, while the vegetables maintain a sturdy crunch. Given the absence of dirty dishes and ease of cooking fish in parchment, there’s no doubt this will be my go-to cooking method.

Note: You’ll find that there are no measurements for this recipe. As opposed to measuring, it’s much easier to adjust up or down by portion size. For each person you’ll need 1 filet of fish and enough vegetables to create a small pile on top. There are also a handful of substitution ideas below – once you have the method down, feel free to use whichever veggies and aromatics you enjoy most!

Substitution Suggestions:
Vegetables – carrot, squash, string beans, onion, thin asparagus, leeks, celery
Citrus – orange, lemon, lime
Fresh Herbs – thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, cilantro, scallions

1 filet of tilapia per person (can substitute founder, sole, or other flaky white fish)
Carrot, peeled and julienned
Summer squash (green or yellow), julienned
String beans, ends trimmed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Shallot, thinly sliced
Orange slices
Fresh thyme
White wine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine carrot, squash and string beans in a bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Lay out 1 square (about 12 inches) of parchment paper per filet, and place one filet on the right half of each piece of paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter shallots over the fish, and then top with a few slices of orange. Create a pile of vegetables on top of each piece of fish. Lastly, place a few sprigs of thyme on top of the veggies. 

To close up the first parcel, begin by folding the left side of the paper over to the right, covering the fish. Starting at a corner, fold the edge of the paper over itself. Continue around the perimeter of the fish, being sure to tightly crimp the paper as you go. Right before the package is completely sealed, carefully pour in a few (2-3) glugs of wine. Finish crimping the paper and fold any final edge under the bottom. Repeat with all of the filets of fish.

Place all of the fish parcels on a baking sheet, and bake for about 13 minutes. When the fish is done cooking, you should be able to easily insert a knife or fork into the thickest part of the filet.

When fish is cooked through, open the parchment and serve immediately.

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