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“What’s Cooking?”

Well, I’m happy to say that I did not fall into a food coma.  It was more like a micro mini-hibernation.  But now I’m out of my cave and ready to go.  Grrr!

In an attempt to rescue my health (and yours), I thought I’d serve something heart-friendly post-Thanksgiving indulgence.

I’m calling it “Feline Fish En Papillote” because eating this makes me feel graceful like a cat – lean…limber….sinuous!  Yup, all this from one dish and besides, cats love to eat fish!  You with me?  I know, perhaps my micro mini-hibernation altered my state of mind.  Or, it was all of the stuffing I ate.  It was all of the stuffing I ate.

En Papillote is french for “in paper”.  Therefore, Fish En Papillote refers to cooking fish in paper.  Ingenious and so so simple!  The term “En Papillote” is basically a technique of “cooking in steam”.  One uses, usually, vegetables and seasoning along with the main item, cook enclosed in the paper, the ingredients give off steam, hence it is “cooked in steam”.  Voilá!

I have no idea if I communicated that correctly, but I can at least show you the process and result!

Ready for another no-recipe meal?  Get your veggies and seasonings together, fish, a little white wine, lemon, parchment paper and some scissors.

Start by julienning your choice of vegetables along with minced garlic.  Anything will do and it’s a perfect opportunity to clean out your veggie drawer.  I had carrot, red onion, zucchini, scallion, and mushroom available.  Sauté them in olive oil, salt, pepper, season to your liking, and add a bit of grated lemon.  Go crazy, be creative, you really can’t go wrong!  There are so many ways to use this technique, this is just one.

Prior to cooking the vegetables, have the parchment paper prepared.  Cut each piece long enough to be folded in half and hold the thickness of your fish and vegetables.  As you can see above, leave enough room for everything and cut a half circle at the end.  Traditionally you’re going more for a half heart shape, but because I’m using a whole fish, I cut it more generously.  You’d much rather have more paper than less.

Brush the paper lightly with butter or oil before placing the cooked vegetables followed by the fish.  Add a splash of white wine and lemon juice on top of it all.  Just a wee splash, you don’t want too much liquid in the pouch!

“Hello Fishy!”

Bf and I chose a fresh Lubina and Rosada from our local market and our fishmonger descaled, cleaned and gutted them for us.  Bf took off the head and stuffed each fish with slices of lemon and garlic.  FYI, it is just as good with a filet of fish (ie. salmon, sole, cod, red snapper) and much less work.

Now comes the time to seal your package.  Your veggies and fish should be in place, seasoned and ready to go.  Fold the parchment paper in half covering everything and start folding in one corner as you see in the upper left photo.  Work your way around and continue to fold, overlapping the folds, then tuck the end firmly closed.  Don’t worry about how it looks, as long as it’s completely sealed it will all taste the same – moist and delicious!

Didn’t dear bf do a beautiful job?  It looks like a giant empanada!  Mmm, empanadas…mmm…oh, right, fish en papillote – I get so easily side-tracked.

By the way, you can use foil paper if you can not find parchment paper, but cut down the cooking time and, as a gauge, foil paper will not puff up.

Into a 350°F (175°C) preheated oven go our beauties!  Place it straight on the grate.  As long as you have not made any accidental punctures, don’t worry there won’t be any leaks and the parchment paper will hold up.

In around 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your fish, you have a scrumptious, steaming package to open!  A good gauge is that the paper will be slightly puffed up and a bit brown.

Since we were working with whole fish, bf thoughtfully filleted and plated our fish and vegetables.  So, another benefit of using a filet, besides ease, is that you can simply transfer your packet to a plate, cut it open (enjoy a facial steam) and dig in!  Spiffy clean up and it makes for a unique presentation.

After a weekend of full-octane Thanksgiving fare, this was absolutely a breath of fresh air.

Try cooking “En Papillote”, you will get moist and tender forkfuls of fish, it’s quick, versatile and practically fool-proof.  C’est magnifique!