Fish en Papillote


Generally when we buy fish we just pan fry it. And in many respects there’s nothing nicer than a piece of fresh fish, quickly fried off in a bit of butter.

However, aiming for something a bit different, while staying light, I decided to give fish en papillote (wrapped in paper, baked and effectively steamed in its own juices) a go. I had a flick through a few cookbooks but couldn’t really find anything in the way of recipes that was satisfactory so just had to make it up as I went along.

I had bought two rather massive fillets of mulloway. If you are going to cook fish en papillote you need to make sure you’ve chosen something meaty and firm fleshed. Whiting or garfish just aren’t going to cut it – if you have those to hand, fry them off in a bit of butter!

Take a large piece of tin foil and cover it with a similarly sized piece of baking paper. You can really put whatever you want in your parcel but the thing to remember is that the fish will cook quickly so if you use any of the harder vegetables you’ll need to make sure you cut them finely. You also don’t want to go overboard with your flavours.

In my case, I’d already decided I was heading for an Asian themed dish (mainly because there was some fresh coriander in the fridge that needed using). I started by finely slicing some onion and then very very finely slicing some carrot (I actually used the mandolin to create long thin strips which I then cut into fine threads). I placed the fish on the bed of carrot, topped with some finely chopped spring onion and finely sliced lemon (using the mandolin, again) and anointed with a dressing made of soy sauce, sesame oil and some grated ginger. The soy gives the finished fish some much needed colour!

You do need to wrap your parcels well – begin by folding up the paper parcel and then use the tin foil to create a good seal. You need to leave space for the steam which will be generated by cooking, but you don’t want it to escape!

Bake at 200°C for around 15-20 minutes. The timing here depends a lot on your fish – after 15 minutes I pulled ours out, checked the larger piece and returned them to the oven for another 5 minutes.

You can serve the fish in its parcel (we discarded the tin foil layer) or, if you’re feeling brave, you can plate it up and pour the sauce from the parcel over the fish. Top with chopped coriander. We had the spicy fried potatoes with this – perhaps a little bit of a cultural mish-mash, but effectively just fish and chips!

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