It always seems like I get into a cooking rut this time of year. Maybe it’s due to this crummy March weather (gray, slow melt of dirty snow, just above freezing temps), the long stretch before the next vacation day (April Vacation is EIGHT weeks away), or winter recipes fatigue (no more soups and stews). I wanted to try something new – and so did the kids.
Steamed fish with scallions and ginger was a weekly staple when I was a kid. And it comes to no surprise that this dish is in regular rotation at our house now. Its super quick, healthy and mild Asian flavors have made it an instant favorite with the boys. And it is definitely a meal I can make with my eyes closed. I needed to give it a new twist and that’s when I remembered Fish en Papillote (fancy for Fish in Parchment).
Basically, you bake fish along with any aromatics, veggies and starch in a pouch you create out of parchment paper. The ingredients are steamed together and presented by opening the parchment. I knew this would be a fun presentation of our regular standby. And I wanted to get the boys involved by having them pick and choose their ingredients.
Fish in Parchment Paper
Adapted from Dinner: a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
- 1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1.5-2 lbs fish fillets (we prefer flounder or sea bass, but almost any firm fish will do)
- 4 fingerling potatoes, sliced thin
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- Green veggies (baby bok choy or chinese broccoli is a favorite), parboiled
- Chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, cilantro)
- Sesame oil (optional)
- Sliced ginger (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour olive oil into measuring cup and add red pepper flakes.
- Prepare four 15 x 15-inch squares of parchment paper (or foil) and place one fish fillet on top of each sheet.
- Top each with a few slices of potato, lemon, onion, veggies, ginger (optional) and drizzle with spicy olive oil. Top each packet with fresh herbs, a dash of sesame oil (optional) and season with salt and pepper.
- Wrap each into parchment packets. There are many techniques to do this, including twirling the ends to look like hard candy, to calzone shaped or pouches similar to how a they wrap up a sandwich at the deli. Pull up the sides together than roll down the ends until it lays flat on the fish. Fold overhang underneath bundle. Then place fish packet on cookie sheet.
- Slide the packets onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve one present per plate. Be careful when unwrapping as the steam will be HOT.