Cooking Fish in Parchment Paper
Simple But Elegant Fish Course Ideas For Valentine's Day
OK guys, here's a simple but elegant fish dish you can prepare that will really impress your mate. Easy to do, dramatic presentation, and you get to cut out heart shapes!
That's right. You heard me. Heart shapes. Figure you only have to do this once a year. Next time you make this could be for Superbowl Sunday and you could cut out football shapes.
What I'm talking about is fish en papillote. That is a fancy French term for "wrapped in parchment." It's a low-fat way to prepare moist and flavorful fish and impress your Valentine at the same time.
The fish is enclosed in paper and steams in its own juices and the other tasty ingredients we're going to include. Vegetables and fish will cook together, meaning you don't have to cook a separate vegetable dish--less clean up for you!
This recipe calls for using parchment paper. You can substitute foil, but if you do, you won't want to add anything acidic, such as citrus juice, wine or tomatoes because the acids can react with the foil and make your food taste bad.
For this particular recipe, I suggest you stick with parchment paper. Parchment is paper that has been impregnated with silicone so that it is non-stick. It is available at the regular grocery store in rolls next to the foil and wax paper.
This recipe makes for a modest fish course. If you want this to be the main course, by all means, use larger fillets.
Fish en Papillote or Fish in Parchment Paper
- 2 12 inch parchment paper squares
- olive oil or olive oil spray
- 2 fillets white fish such as sole or snapper
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 ounces dry white wine
- 2 lemon slices
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter optional
- 2 sprigs dill or about ½ teaspoon dried dill
- 18 spears thin asparagus
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Fold each square of parchment in half and cut out a heart shape. You have all done this before"”in school when you made Valentine cards.
- Open each heart and brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil or spray with olive oil spray.
- Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Wash asparagus and break off the woody ends. Just bend them; they will naturally break where they should. Discard the ends. Lightly spray olive oil on the asparagus and toss with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper and the lemon zest.
- Divide the asparagus in half. Put half of the asparagus on each of the hearts, just to one side of the center of each heart.
- Put one piece of fish on top of each bundle of asparagus.
- Top with one sprig of dill (or half of the dried dill), a slice of lemon and either ½ of the butter or a light drizzle of olive oil.
- Splash half the wine on top of each piece of fish.
- To wrap up these packets: fold the top of the heart over the fish and asparagus. At the top end of the heart, away from the point, fold up both edges (top and bottom) and crease well.
- Move down about ½ inch and fold up the edges, overlapping your first fold. Continue folding and creasing all around the parchment heart until you get to the point.
- Fold and crease the point twice. You now have successfully wrapped your fish en papillote.
- Place the packets side by side on a baking sheet, making sure the packets aren't touching.
- Bake in the center of the oven until the packets are well puffed and the fish is cooked, about 10-12 minutes.
- To serve, put a packet on your sweetheart's plate, place in front of her, and with a dramatic flourish and a "watch out for the steam," carefully slice the packet open with a sharp knife. You watch out, too: the steam will be very hot.