Fish in Parchment (en papillote)

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Fish baked in parchment paper: Fancy, impressive dinner party, or very quick, easy and customizable weeknight meal? Yes.

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Imagine you’re a guest a dinner party and you’re served a plate with puffed up, browned parchment paper. Pretend it’s your birthday and you’re invited to tear the gift wrap open.  Fish in parchment is just like that.

Now, imagine you’ve had a harried day at work but you want a healthy, quick, — and because you deserve it — very tasty, restaurant-quality meal. Fish in parchment checks those boxes, too.  Plus, it’s highly customizable with whatever type of fish, herbs and other add ins you like. You can even make each one different with next to no extra effort.

Just follow the basic guidelines and cooking times in the recipe, below. From baked cookies and cakes to baked fish in parchment, I encourage you to get intimately familiar with your oven and how it responds (Does it run warmer or cooler than your setting? Does it have hot spots?). Like you might do for other recipes you print, make notes of exactly how long each type and thickness of fish takes to bake. If you don’t nail it the first time, make notes. You can easily adjust the next time.

What you see in the photos is Mahi Mahi. I’ve made two with lemon and thyme, and two with lemon and bay leaves. These cooked in 13 minutes at 400F. But like I said, this recipe is highly customizable; use what you have and what you like.

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Here’s the recipe:

Fish in Parchment (en papillote)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For all variations:

Mandatory:

  • 4 pieces cooking parchment paper, roughly 10 X 16 inches
  • 1 lb, four pieces skinless fish fillets (see Step 9 under instructions for types and thickness of fish)
  • On each fillet, place:
    • Pinch of Kosher salt
    • Grind of black pepper
    • Drizzle of olive oil
    • Drizzle of white wine or splash of vinegar
    • Two thin slices of lemon, lime or orange

Optional add ins that provide a wallop of flavor (use any or all):

  • On each fillet, place:
    • 1 Bay leaf, or 2 sprigs thyme or dill, or 2 leaves basil, or 1 teaspoon finally chopped parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon rinsed capers
    • 1 teaspoon finely minced shallot
    • 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic
    • 2 Green olives

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
  2. Lay four pieces of parchment on your counter or work area. Fold each in half so you can see where the center crease is. Open the paper so it’s flat
  3. Pat each fish filet dry with a paper towel and lay each fillet next to the crease near the center of the paper
  4. Sprinkle Kosher salt and pepper on each fillet
  5. Drizzle olive oil and white wine or vinegar on each fillet
  6. Place two citrus slices on each fillet
  7. If you are including any optional add-ons, place them on top of the citrus slices
  8. Fold each parchment paper in half, covering the fish. Starting at one corner, make small folds (several 1/4 inch or one centimeter folds), and continue around the corners until you reach the end. When you reach the other side of the paper, fold it tightly and flip the end under the opposite way (see photos and video). If I’m not serving this to guests, and the parchment is giving me trouble, I’ve resorted to using a stapler. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone.)
  9. Fold all four parchment papers to make four fish packets. Place on baking tray.
  10. General guidelines for cooking fish in parchment are: At 400F, thinner fish (1/2 inch fillets) bake for 12 – 14 minutes, and thicker fish (1 inch fillets) bake for 15 – 18 minutes.
  11. After removing the parchment packets from the oven, let them sit for one minute. You can either let each person open their own packets at the table on their plate, or you can open them and remove them from the parchment. This parchment technique and recipe is “self-saucing” from the liquids. Either serve with the sauce or remove the fish with a spatula and plate. Be sure to remove and do not eat the bay leaf or other fibrous herbs if you use them.

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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