Cooking en papillote, or in parchment paper, is a fool-proof and healthy way to cook lean proteins, like fish fillets or chicken breast cutlets. These little parchment pouches are like small steam ovens that seal in the moisture and concentrate the flavors and goodness of all that is enclosed. The result is always tender, flaky fish or moist chicken cutlets.
This classic French cooking method for baking fish en papillote might sound fancy, but it is pretty simple: layer a bed of tender vegetables on a piece of parchment paper, top with well-seasoned fish fillets, add some aromatics and herbs, and drizzle with a small amount of flavorful liquid. Seal each pouch by making tiny folds along the edges and bake in a hot oven until the parcels are all puffed up by the steam that is build up inside.
It is important that everything in the pouch cooks at the same time, so choose tender vegetables that are thinly sliced as a bed for your fish. Favorite combinations are spinach, zucchini, asparagus, paper-thin slices of fennel, or sugar snaps, paired with haddock, grouper or salmon. A splash of white wine or lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil will make a simple and flavorful sauce. After a short trip to the oven, the fish and the vegetables are tender and intensely flavorful. Better yet, you will also have nothing to clean up; just throw out the parchment paper when done!
- 2 fillets skinless white fish (like haddock or cod), 5-6 oz. each and about ½” thick
- --- sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
- --- dried oregano
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup carrots, finely julienned
- 2 small handfuls of baby spinach or some thinly sliced zucchini
- 4 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half (optional)
- 4 small slices of lemon
- --- sprigs of fresh thyme
- --- olive oil, for drizzling
- 2 TBSP. white wine (or Ouzo or Pernot)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Fold two large pieces of parchment paper in half. Draw the shape of half a heart and cut the outline with scissors. (see photo tutorial)
- Season the fish generously with the salt, pepper and oregano then drizzle some olive oil on both sides. Cover and let the fish sit at room temperature for twenty minutes to half an hour.
- Oil the parchment paper pieces, and divide equally the baby spinach and carrots on each piece of the paper. Season the vegetables with some salt and pepper and place the fish on top. Add the thyme, a few lemon slices and the tomato halves (if using). Drizzle with some more olive oil.
- Fold the paper over, to enclose the fish and make little pockets, leaving one side slightly open. Pour the wine in the little pockets and then tuck under that piece of paper. Place the fish on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
- Remove from the oven carefully and check to make sure the fish is nice and flaky. To serve, make a small cut in the middle of the paper to allow the steam to escape. With the help of scissors cut into the tip of the parchment paper, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and serve in the paper.
How to make Fish en Papillote – Photo Tutorial
(If the fish fillets are small, you can enclose them both into one piece of parchment paper.)
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