Fish and vegetables cooked in paper
Fish and vegetable recipe is healthy, quick and delicious
This is a fish recipe, but more importantly, this recipe is an example of a steaming technique that can be used with a wide variety of fish and vegetables. The technique is called "en papillote" or in paper. Fish fillets, vegetables, seasonings and a few slices of citrus are cooked in parchment or foil and put in the oven for about 10 minutes and voilà! You have a one-dish meal.
Cooking in parchment paper, parchment bags or even tin foil
For parchment paper, tear off a large square, at least 18" x 18" or bigger. Fold the square on the diagonal to create a triangle. Layer the fish and veggies on one half of the square. Fold over the edges of the two open sides a few times to create a tight seal. You can serve individual parchment packets right on the plate for a fun presentation.
In the pictures, I use parchment bags. The benefits of using these bags is they are handy and it is easy to get a good seal, which is important for effective steaming. The disadvantage is that they are a little expensive.
You can also use tinfoil to create the packets. The advantage to tinfoil is that you can add a little more wine or broth to enhance the steaming if you want. The disadvantages are it is a little harder to tell when they are done and the presentation is not as nice.
One pot or no pot meal
You can make this dish without dirtying a dish, or almost without dirtying a dish. If you saute your vegetables in advance, you will dirty one skillet. You can avoid this by slicing your vegetables very thin.
I am exaggerating a bit, if your parchment pouches leak, you will also need to clean a baking sheet. But this is a very small exaggeration. This is about as clean a cooking method as you will find.
Cooking time will vary with the density and the thickness of the fish. Thin sole fillets will cook in under 10 minutes and thicker cuts will take a little longer. If you are using parchment paper, the paper will puff up and begin to turn brown. If you are unsure whether your fish is done, you can always open a packet and test with a fork to see if the fish flakes. If not, seal it back up and give it a couple more minutes.
Vegetables with high water content work well, such as mushrooms, onions, shallots, leeks, fennel, peppers and asparagus.
Flakey fish works best. Try sole, salmon, tilapia, trout, sea bass or halibut. You can also cook chicken, shrimp and lobster en papillote.
Herbs and aromatics
Punch up the flavor with fresh herbs, garlic and ginger.
Liquid is necessary for steaming, but comes naturally in both the fish and the vegetables and does not need to be added. You can add a little liquid for flavor. Just be careful that you don't add too much or the paper will break down. Foil is a little more forgiving of added liquid. Consider wine, broth, soy sauce, cream or even a bit of vinegar.
A little added fat adds a lot of flavor to this otherwise low-fat cooking method. Olive oil, butter, cream or toasted sesame seed oil are all good choices.
Citrus slices are not necessary, but they add both liquid and flavor. Consider lemons, limes and oranges.
Rice, potatoes or quinoa
If you want you can layer the fish and vegetables on top a bed of cooked rice, mashed potatoes or quinoa, for a truly complete meal.
Fish and vegetables cooked in paper
Yield 2 servings
Healthy fish and vegetables cooked in individual paper packets are perfect for last-minute meals. Quick enough for weeknights and impressive enough for guests.
- Parchment paper, parchment bags or foil
- 2 fish fillets, about 1/2 pound each ( I used sole)
- 1 - 2 T olive oil or butter
- 2 large handfuls of fresh vegetables (I used fennel and shiitake mushrooms)
- A few sprigs of herbs
- 6 slices of citrus (I used lemons) plus more for serving
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a skillet on a medium high flame. Saute the vegetables briefly in butter or olive oil. They will continue to cook in the oven, so do not over cook. Alternatively, if you slice the vegetables very thinly, you can skip the saute step.
- Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Put two squares of parchment paper or foil, or two parchment paper bags on a baking sheet. Lay fish on the parchment on foil. Top with vegetables, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil or a pat of butter. You can add a tiny pour of wine, broth or cream. No more than a tablespoon or less if you are using paper. Foil is more forgiving of a little extra liquid.
- Place a couple of citrus slices on top of the vegetables. Seal by folding edges over tightly several times. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10 minutes. If fillet is thick, it will take a little more time. Serve with a slice of citrus.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH