Wednesday, August 3, 2011

En Papillote

One of my favourite ways to cook fish is the french style 'en papillote' (in parchment). All it means is that you cook the fish in the oven, wrapped in parchment paper. The result is always perfectly done moist fish. Here is how it breaks down...

I always go with a theme of some kind, usually a herb or spice flavour or an ethnic theme, choose fish and veggies to compliment, then I get going - this day was a Madras Curry day.

RECIPE: En Papillote

1 fish fillet per person
1 rectangular piece of parchment paper per person, longer than it is wide
chopped veggies for the bottom

> chop the veggies and toss in a bowl with spices; I used garlic and Madras Curry
> place the parchment paper in a loaf tin (for the shape) and fill the bottom with a 2-3 cm layer of spiced veggies
> place the fish fillet on top of the veg

> sprinkle fresh herbs over the fish
> fold the parchment paper like a little package, making sure to seal all the edges - the steam from the veg will cook the fish

> place all the packages on a cookie sheet (or a rectangular pan or in loaf pans) and bake at 205ºC or 400ºF for 10 to 20 minutes or until your fish is JUST cooked - it will be around 25 minutes for thicker frozen fish fillets like tilapia, but will be more like 8 minutes for a fully thawed thin fillet like sole

To serve, place each closed parchment paper package on a plate, allowing each person to open their own package (be aware of the scalding hot steam) or serve on in each loaf tin on small cutting boards.

I have used this method with fully frozen fish fillets and fresh ones, chopped veggies and whole ones, like asparagus. All are delicious and worth trying. I really enjoyed garlicky asparagus under fresh parsley tilapia.

This is a great place to experiment, using whatever vegetables make sense to you; like potatoes, carrots, apples, fennel, spinach, and the list goes on.

What would you do or have you done for this kind of dish? What if you stirred ginger and soya sauce into the veggies along with some sliced nori and served it over rice?

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