Today I’m going to tackle a recipe that’s like Denise Richards—It seems complicated, but it’s actually really easy: Fish en papillote. Or, for folks like me who don’t speak French…fish steamed in a cute parchment paper pouch.
Don’t run away in panic! I have the attention span of a gnat, and I can handle this. It’s hands-down my favorite way to prepare fish: it’s healthy, super-flavorful, and the best part—virtually no clean up! Let’s focus on the method, then I’ll give you recipe ideas at the end. You’ll need a good amount of parchment paper, a pencil, thin fish fillets (like tilapia, snapper, orange roughy, etc.) and your seasonings of choice. The following instructions are for one fillet.
Step 1: Creating Your Packet
Your end goal is a heart-shaped piece of parchment. If you’re really gifted, you could always go free-style and draw your own heart. I prefer my Kindergarten method: First, tear off a 24-inch piece of parchment and fold it in half. Then, with the folded side facing right, draw half a heart. Use scissors to cut out the shape, then unfold. Ta-da! You should have a heart shape.
Step 2: Wrapping Her Up
Place your fish on one side of the unfolded heart. Season both sides, then get ready to seal her up. Fold the other side of the heart over, so you’re back to the half-heart shape. Start at the the big top of the heart (not the pointy end), and begin rolling-folding. As you do this, you’ll notice you kinda automatically work your way around the heart. When you get to the end, twist the point of heart and tuck it in best you can.
Step 3: Bake and Enjoy
Place the parchment packet on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes. And that’s it! You can serve it in the packet…just slit the top open, or cut open one end and empty the contents over rice, quinoa, or couscous.
You can go any direction with flavor, just remember to keep things thinly sliced to insure quick cooking. And use salt and pepper, of course. If you’re feeling indulgent, a pat of butter on top is nice, but not necessary.
Asian Persuasion: Throw down some red onion and lime slices. Add fish. Top with chopped cilantro, and fresh minced ginger and garlic, and lime zest. Add a few more lime slices, some more onion, and perhaps a splash of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.
Mediterranean: Do onion (or shallots!) again, but lemon this time instead of lime. Top with fish. Then add the fresh herbs of your choice…parsley, basil, thyme, oregano…or all of the above. Minced garlic and lemon zest are nice, along with finishing splashes of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.