Originally posted on FineDiners.ca
This is my new favourite way to prepare fish! FineDiner Eric turned me on to it – it’s so simple but yet so incredibly delicious, and it cuts down on the mess since you cook and eat it all in the parchment vessel. I made this for the first time on Friday night and my girlfriend insisted that I cook it again on Sunday – and I’m sure we’ll be having it a lot more often from now on!
I used some Tilapia fillets, but you can use Halibut or just about any firm white fish as long as it’s fillet cut. Likewise, you can add just about any other ingredients to the bag, but I added some slices of lemon, sliced fingerling potatoes, julienne carrots, some brussels sprouts and rice. I also added a bit of fresh basil and a nub of butter. (yes, there are mushrooms in the picture at right – they somehow didn’t make it into the final packet)
The key thing with the vegetables is to pre-cook anything that might take too long to cook in the bag – for example, my potatoes and brussels sprouts – they would take too long to cook and you’d either have overcooked fish or undercooked vegetables if you just put them in raw. The trick though is not to completely pre-cook them – if they’re fully cooked before they go in the bag, you’ll probably end up with mushy vegetables. Blanching works great – boil the vegetables until a little less than done and then drop them into ice water to stop the cooking process. This will ensure your vegetables don’t overcook and will preserve their nice bright colours.
Alternatively, you can ensure even cooking by cutting the veggies up really small, like I did with the julienne carrots.
With your vegetables prepped, tear off a fairly big piece of parchment paper and fold it in two. Then, cut out a half heart-shape starting at the folded edge (you know, like how you used to make valentines cards for your mom in kindergarten!)
Lay the parchment flat and add your ingredients to one side of the heart. I started with a small bed of rice – a Basmati blend that was very aromatic and flavourful – like the vegetables, this should be precooked as well.
Then lay down a few slices of lemon, and place the fish fillets on top.
Add the rest of the vegetables and any herbs, and be sure to add salt as desired – I used a really nice Ibiza sea salt, which I sprinkled at each layer, as well as some fresh ground black pepper. And don’t forget to add a nub of butter before you close this thing up!
Fold the parchment heart in two, and starting from the top of the heart shape, roll up the edges, sealing the packet shut. Stop just short of the tip, and pour in a little liquid like white wine or just a bit of water to keep things moist during the cooking.
Place the parchment heart in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. To serve, cut an “X” through the top of the parchment heart and fold the points back. This part should be done at the table just before eating – when it opens up the aromas are just amazing, and you don’t want to rob your dinner guests of the experience!