Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fish in Parchment

Fish en Papillote... Take 3

The morning schedule today was chock-a-block full of errands and appointments that had me running all over town, from the south end to downtown and some in-betweens. By lunch time I was ready to either pick up take-out or drive home to pick up the husband and head for the local pub. Food... fast... right now... ran through my mind, repeating over and over like the moving banner on an animated ad. 

STOP! Mutual Fish was on the route home and provided a much healthier solution. I recall that happening once before, when H and I created some delicious variations of fish en papillote (link). My first experience with this technique came in 2012 (link), participating in a cooking challenge with The Daring Cooks, and it has become routine on board the boat. I don't often buy seafood ashore, but when I do it is guaranteed to come from Mutual.

Lunch at home was fast, easy and fabulous, a much better choice today than either take out or eating out... and more affordable even  than splitting a sandwich at our favorite local eatery.

Fish Baked in Parchment

For the fish package:
1 lemon, sliced
1 fat sturgeon steak (or other firm, white fish), roughly 3/4 pound
2 tablespoons tapenade (homemade olive spread)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (mixed Italian parsley and basil today)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 scant tablespoon olive oil 
parchment paper to wrap 1 or 2 bundles

Serving suggestions:
cooked spaghetti or other long strand pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
sprinkle of garlic powder
additional chopped fresh herbs for topping
1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Layer the first 6 ingredients, lemon through olive oil, in the order listed on 10x12-inch piece of parchment paper.
  3. Double-fold the long edge to seal; double-fold the ends and tuck under.
  4. Place on baking sheet.
  5. Repeat with other fillet. (Refrigerate until ready to bake if you make this ahead).
  6. Place baking sheet on middle oven rack and bake approximately 12 minutes, depending upon thickness of the fish. At this temperature my oven takes 12-15 minutes per inch of thickness. 
  7. Open one parcel to check for doneness; the fish should be opaque and flake easily. Remove the fish from the oven before it is completely done - it will continue to cook for several minutes while out of the oven. Be careful not to overcook your seafood - ever!
  8. Serve parcels immediately, still wrapped so each diner can enjoy the fragrant steamy flavors as they open their individual serving. 
OR serve the contents of each parcel (including the juices) on warm plates atop cooked pasta sauced with olive oil and garlic powder. Sprinkle with fresh herbs (and Parmesan and capers if you choose). Serve immediately.

 * If you serve the packages still wrapped, provide a bowl of cooked rice, quinoa or couscous for diners to spoon inside their opened bundle. The juices are too good to leave behind.
 * RL reports a final squeeze of fresh lemon juice is essential, no matter how you serve the fish! 

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