The en papillote technique is a method of cooking by wrapping food in parchment paper, sealing it such that it forms a parcel in order to retain the moisture, and baking it in the oven. It reminds me of the time when I went to North Stradbroke Island with my uni mates for a practical project. After a session of planting trees, the local residents decided to take us for a BBQ lunch by the lake, and one of them cooked us fish fillets wrapped in foil on the hot plate. She had marinated them earlier in salt and added in slices of tomato in the package. When we opened them up, we were extremely surprised – it looked so much like Chinese-style steamed fish! Plus we had steamed rice to go with it, so some of us felt a little nostalgic.
This season’s Masterchef also included a class with George baking a snapper en papillote. Although it was an incredibly artsy dish, what with the addition of fish mousse, confit onions and potato slices boiled in saffron, I could see myself recreating it at home, especially since we love seafood and us Chinese people believe that you must eat fish in order to keep your brains working.
Omega 3? Pfft, we knew that a long time ago, baby.
What really sealed the deal (pun unintended) for me was seeing a Freshly Pressed post called ‘Fish in a Butterfly‘. Talk about motivation! I was about to be boring and cook spaghetti marinara for the thousandth time when Mom revealed that she had actually defrosted two barramundi steaks; so I decided that it is time to give the en papillote/en papillon a go. If possible, you should use fillets as they’re easier to serve and eat, and you can definitely add in cherry tomatoes, wombok leaves and other vegetables and herbs of your choice. Poisson en papillote is great with steamed rice for a healthy meal that kicks butt, and of course, let’s not forget that it benefits your brain. Well, let’s get folding, people!
2 barramundi/cod/snapper steaks or fillets, approximately 300 g each *
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tbsp coconut milk
2 tsp lime juice
2 small potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
10 pieces of snow peas, strings removed
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
- In a small saucepan, add in the potato slices, 1 tsp of salt and pour in enough water to coat the spuds. Once the water starts to boil, turn off the heat and leave the saucepan on the stove for 5 minutes. Drain.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, coconut milk, lime juice, pepper and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.
- Place one steak/fillet on a piece of parchment paper that is large enough to form a parcel for the fish.
- Add in half of the liquid marinade and rub into the fish.
- Arrange half of the potato slices on top of the fish, then layer with 5 snow peas and parsley sprigs.
- Seal the edges by folding over one corner and then continue to fold, overlapping bit by bit and crimping together the two pieces of parchment paper until you form a parcel (check the photo above).
- Repeat steps 4 to 7 for the other piece of fish.
- Bake parcels in the oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
- Upon removal from the oven, let the parcels rest for 3 minutes before opening.
- Garnish with more parsley sprigs and serve with steamed rice.
- Put that nutrition to good use with some Sudoku.