Here’s an easy dish that will get you back into easy entertaining at home! Fish en Papillote!
Dramatic? Yes. Delicious? You bet.
Cooking en papillote creates dishes that dazzle. And they are easy to prepare, perfect for post-pandemic dinners at home with friends. It’s the classic French technique that bakes ingredients sealed in a parchment-paper pouch. Each parcel contains one serving, and as it bakes the food inside steams in its own juices.
Toward the end of baking, each packet balloons into an alluring golden dome. Packets are slipped onto individual plates, and each diner tears or cut open the package at the table, filling their nostrils with the aroma of fragrant steam. I usually make a tiny hole the point of a knife for guests, just to get things started.
For those looking for speedier preparation, quick-to-make packets can be made of aluminum foil.
Fish Fillets en Papillote
Yield: 6 servings
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 large mushrooms, sliced
2 large shallots, peeled, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley (or tarragon or basil)
6 (5-ounce) fish fillets, boned and skinless delicate or medium-firm fish fillet, such as sea bass, striped bass, halibut, mahimahi, ling cod, or snapper
1 teaspoon salt (a sprinkle of Spike original seasoning is a nice addition, too)
1 teaspoon white pepper
6 sheets parchment paper – 12-by-14 inches or 12-by-16-inches
1 egg white and pastry brush
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, mushrooms and shallots; cook, stirring frequently, until most of liquid has cooked away and mushrooms are cooked. Add flour; stir frequently and cook on medium for 2 minutes. Add wine, increase heat to medium high and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until most of wine has cooked away. Add cream and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in parsley or basil or tarragon. Taste and add salt if needed. If making as much as three hours in advance, cool completely before assembly. If assembling to bake right away, wait about 10 minutes before assembling so sauce can cool down.
2. Pat fish dry; season fish with salt and pepper. Fold each sheet of parchment in half. Open and brush a small amount of egg white on border on the lower half. Place about 1 to 2 tablespoons sauce next to the fold and top with fillet. Top with 3 tablespoons sauce.
3. Fold paper in half. Starting at the top corner, make small “tuck and rolls” with parchment edge. Twist final edge and tuck under packet and place in single layer on baking sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes for thin fillets, or 14 minutes for thicker fillets. Test one for doneness. If it needs more time, return to oven for 2 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately in parchment. To capture sauce, provide diners with good-sized spoons.