Cooking with Alison

Fish en Papillote (in Parchment)

In Fish / Seafood on March 1, 2010 at pm

I caught 4 fish ice fishing at the 2010 Winterlude Festival in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  They were all brook trout weighing between 1/2 to 1 lb each.  I steamed the largest fish whole (link to recipe here), pan fried the smallest one until the skin was crispy, and baked the last two small fish in parchment.  Baking fish en papillote steams the fish in its own juices along with vegetables in a parchment paper envelope.  This is also called fish al cartoccio.  The best part about this cooking method is the easy clean up.  It’s quick, easy, and very healthy.  The fish comes out very moist and sometimes I use this method just to cook my vegetables alone.  This is great for entertaining too.

Fish en Papillote Recipe

for one paper envelope; serve 1 per person  (see below for an asian variation)

fish fillet of your choice or whole small fish with head and tail removed, (ie. salmon, halibut, sea bass, tilapia, sole)

combination of 2 or 3 vegetables of your choice, sliced thinly crosswise or cut into thin strips lengthwise (ie. new potatoes, asparagus, green/yellow zucchini, green/yellow/orange/red bell peppers, small broccoli florets, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes cut in half)

1/4 to 1/2 clove garlic, very finely minced

2 to 4 thin slices lemon or a few drops of lemon juice

olive oil or 1/2 to 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

a few drops of white wine (optional)

sprinkle of fresh herbs, chopped (ie. thyme, parsley, dill)

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Pat the fish fillet dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Cut a piece of parchment paper that, when folded in half, is large enough to cover the fish and vegetables with extra room along the edges for crimping.  Fold the parchment paper in half and cut out a large semi circle so you end up with a heart shape when you unfold the parchment paper.  Centre one half of the parchment paper on top of a baking sheet.  Then spread the vegetables of your choice in the middle of the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Place the fish fillet on top of the vegetables.  If using wine, splash a few drops of white wine – don’t use too much liquid or the fish will boil as opposed to steam.  If using lemon, place lemon slices below and on top of the fish or sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.  Again, don’t add too much liquid.  Sprinkle with herb(s) and garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil or top with 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Fold the other half of the parchment paper over to enclose the food.  To seal the ends, start at the top crease that’s at the centre of the heart and make small, overlapping diagonal folds until you’ve sealed the food completely in the parchment paper pouch.  You will have a half crescent shaped envelope on a baking sheet.  Bake on the baking sheet in the oven for 6 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness and size of the fish.  My half pound trout only needed 6 minutes.  Do not overcook the fish.  It should be just cooked when you remove it from the oven.  Using scissors, cut an X into the centre of the parchment pouch and carefully tear it open with your hands.  Be careful of the hot steam.

Asian Inspired Fish en Papillote Recipe

fish fillet of your choice or whole small fish with head and tail removed, (ie. salmon, halibut, sea bass, tilapia, sole)

baby bok choy, sliced into thirds

1/4 to 1/2 clove garlic, finely minced

1 thin slice ginger, cut into thin strips

1 green onion, sliced thinly

soy sauce

sesame oil

shaoxing wine or mirin (optional)

salt and white pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Pat the fish fillet dry with a paper towel and season with salt and white pepper on both sides.  Only use a little bit of white pepper because it is much stronger than black pepper.  Cut a piece of parchment paper that, when folded in half, is large enough to cover the fish and vegetables with extra room along the edges for crimping.  Fold the parchment paper in half and cut out a large semi circle so you end up with a heart shape when you unfold the parchment paper.  Centre one half of the parchment paper on top of a baking sheet.
Then spread the sliced bok choy in the middle of the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with some salt.  Place the fish fillet on top of the vegetables.  If using shaoxing wine or mirin, splash a few drops – don’t use too much liquid or the fish will boil as opposed to steam.  Sprinkle with garlic, ginger, green onions, and white pepper.  Drizzle with a few drops of soy sauce and 2 drops of sesame oil.

Fold the other half of the parchment paper over to enclose the food.  To seal the ends, start at the top crease that’s at the centre of the heart and make small, overlapping diagonal folds until you’ve sealed the food completely in the parchment paper pouch.  You will have a half crescent shaped envelope on a baking sheet.  Bake on the baking sheet in the oven for 6 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness and size of the fish.  My half pound trout only needed 6 minutes.  Do not overcook the fish.  It should be just cooked when you remove it from the oven.  Using scissors, cut an X into the centre of the parchment pouch and carefully tear it open with your hands.  Be careful of the hot steam.

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