En Papillote: Startlingly Simple, yet Sounds Super Fancy

It’s ridiculous, I know, that any time a dish has a French name, one assumes it is complicated, contains a heavy sauce and takes ages to prepare. Well, have you ever tried preparing fish en papillote? Or,  al cartoccio? Or in parchment paper, to use layperson’s terms? It is super simple, and I’d also add forgiving.  The most challenging thing might be to remember to purchase a roll of parchment paper suitable for cooking, because you probably don’t have it in your pantry. Oh, and did I mention this is a very light and healthy method, too?

Here’s a basic recipe for cooking en papillote (note I will try to use the French as much as possible):
  • Rip off a square of parchment paper (15X15 for instance)
  • Place 1 fillet of fish (that’s a fresh fillet of fish of your choice, not a Filet o’Fish) on the parchment. Try thin white fish, like sole or snapper, or denser fish, like salmon or halibut
  • Chop up some veggies that you have in the fridge. Julienne carrots, chop up asparagus, small florets of broccoli, etc, and place a handful on top veggies on top of fish fillet
  • Season with salt and pepper, and any other dried or fresh herbs to your liking.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice or lime juice (some sort of acid) and a drizzle of olive oil
  • Pull one side of the parchment paper to the other side and begin folding, eventually tucking the corner under the packet. Repeat for as many people you are serving
  • Bake in 400 degree oven for 15-25 min depending on thickness of fish
The great thing is that this is a FORGIVING method. Even if the fish is cooked a minute or two too long, it will still taste delicious. It will never get dried out because of the steam formed within the sealed packet. The downside of this method is that you can’t check for doneness. You must trust the recipe you’re following.
Apropos, this is what I’m making tonight – a great recipe from Real Simple.  Steamed salmon with asparagus and scallions. The juice from the lemon makes everything taste fresh and citrusy – yum. I skipped the potatoes (which you prepare separately), and added some cauliflower to the fish packets.  Hubs even approves of this dish, but he hasn’t had it with cauliflower before. Stay tuned…

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