Years ago, I worked in a little place called Frank’s Diner which served diner food with an upscale twist.
One of my favorite dishes to make at Frank’s was Salmon en Papillote, which means, “salmon baked in paper.” Salmon was baked in a parchment paper envelope,which puffed and browned while in the oven. There’s was magic happening inside the paper, namely light, flaky, moist fish. The browned package was plated and servers cut it open in front of the customer. Food drama at it’s finest.
(A note…I used environmentally friendly parchment paper – it’s unbleached so it doesn’t show the browning the same way white parchment paper will.)
Simple to Do
The method is the same, regardless of the type of fish you’re baking. All you do is:
- Cut a heart out of parchment paper that’s larger than the filet. It has to be big enough to hold the fish and have room to fold the edges closed.
- Lay the fish on one half of the heart.
- Season the fish.
- Fold the other half over and crimp the edges closed tightly so no steam escapes.
- Bake for 5 – 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish) and serve.
Side Dish Suggestions
The fish is very light and not strongly flavored so you could serve this with almost anything. Just don’t put cheese on the fish. A few ideas:
- Crispy Sweet Potatoes
- Paremsan Quinoa with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and Carrots
- White Bean Gratin
- Steamed Veggies or a big, green salad
- Oven Baked Brown Rice (Try punching up the flavor of this since the fish is pretty neutral. Try curry and a little tumeric or cumin and tomaotes.)
Eating Sustainable, Ocean-Friendly Seafood
I used a white fish – acutally Orange Roughy. I thought I was doing the right thing by purchasing wild caught fish until I got home (with the fish, mind you) and did some research. It turns out that Orange Roughy is currently on the Seafood Watch: Avoid List put out by Monterey Bay Aquarium due to overfishing.
Next time I’ll get halibut, cod, or rainbow trout.
The good news?
I found a way to not do this again.
Monterey Bay has a printable, region specific Pocket Guide and a free iPhone app. They detail best choices, good alternatives, and fish to avoid so we can all do our part to keep our oceans healthy and sustainable.
I obviously still cooked the fish and enjoyed every last bite. Joe walked into my office as I was uploading the picture and reminded me that dinner was perfect that night.
What are your kitchen diva tips?
- 2 (6 oz.) fish filets
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 2 pinches of dried majoram
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
- 4 thin lemon slices
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Cut two pieces of parchment paper about 6 inches longer than the fish filets. Fold each one in half and cut a heart. Open up the hearts. Place each filet on one side of the heart.
- Brush the filets with melted butter. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with parsley, majoram, and shallots. Top with two lemon slices each.
- Now your ready to crimp the edges. Fold the paper over so it covers the filet. Start at the top of the heart and carefully fold the edges closed, overlapping as you go so that the steam can’t get out. When you reach the bottom, fold the point under so that it stays in place.
- Bake for 5 – 8 minutes until the paper is puffed and brown. If your filets are very thin, bake for a shorter amount of time. If you have a very thick piece of fish, you’ll need to bake it longer.
- If for some reason your paper doesn’t brown and you want a dramatic presentation, pop them under the broiler for a few seconds. Don’t walk away from the oven, though, or you’ll ruin your dinner.
- Serve immediately, with the fish in the paper. Cut it open at the table and watch your guest ooh and ahh.