We are in the throwback era, where most everything is getting a much-needed makeover, not just with hairstyles, movies, fashion and décor. Food archives are being ransacked and en papillote (cooking in a pouch) is now getting its spotlight.
En papillote’s claim to fame arrived when it was introduced during the era of French Haute Cuisine, where meals were presented with élan and panache. An envelope looking pouch was placed on a plate with much pomp and ceremony allowing the clientele to open its contents, hence achieving a nirvana-like state by inhaling the aromatic, sumptuous contents.
Since it’s a blank canvas, its revival is rather a marvelous thing, as the food is much more flavorful steaming in its own juices, rather than using the old school steam method. All the flavors encased in the pouch are allowed a marriage made in heaven.
Coupled with today’s vehemence of non-calorific and quickly prepared meals, it’s a sensational way of achieving a winning dish, that has ease of preparation and in the presentation department it will win you master chef accolades. And by all means, if you don’t want to stand on ceremony, aluminum foil is a perfect substitute.
The most common choices are any kind of fish filets and vegetables.
EN PAPILLOTE 101
Cut the parchment paper if foil in a large enough square so you’ve left yourself ample room to seal it
Add a small amount of olive oil to prevent the foods sticking to the surface, especially if using foil
Place the first ingredient at the bottom in the middle, following with the rest of the ingredients
Finish with any liquid, herbs and condiments – ensuring there’s not too much liquid so you avoid spilling over when folding
Grab the top and bottom edge creating a fold and then crimp the ends to create a seal – ensuring you have a tight seal to avoid any steam or liquid from escaping the pouch
Bake and place the packets in individual plates and cut the tops with scissors, being careful to avoid burns from the hot steam
WHITE COD EN PAPILLOTE
4 cod filets
2 leeks – thoroughly washed and sliced into rounds
1 pkg of white button mushrooms
10 baby carrots
1 pkg of snow peas
½ sweet onion – sliced finely
¼ cup of dry white wine
Juice and zest of half lemon
2 cloves of garlic – peeled and chopped
Small bunch of baby spinach
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil and butter
PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400F
In a skillet heat about 1 TBSP of olive oil and a small pad of butter. Sautee the leeks and onion for about 5 minutes and then add the chopped garlic. Sauté for about 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Allow the wine to evaporate somewhat and the veggies to cook until they are almost soft.
Salt and pepper the fish. Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper, large enough to accommodate the ingredients and have ample room to seal.
Blanch the carrots and the snow peas in some boiling water for about 2 minutes, removing promptly.
Place the spinach leaves on the bottom on top of the parchment paper. Add a small drizzle of olive oil and a small pad of butter. Place the snow peas, carrots and sliced mushrooms on top. Place the fish atop all the veggies and spoon the leek/onion mixture on top of the fish. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice and some of the zest on top of the fish then add a few pads of butter. Seal the pouches and bake for about 12 minutes. Remove and serve.
MEDITERRANEAN SALMON IN FOIL
4 pieces of salmon filets – skins removed about 500 oz each
Bunch fresh green asparagus
Slices of lemon
2 shallots – finely chopped
¼ TSP of garlic powder
2 TBSP drained capers – finely chopped
1 TSP thyme
1 TSP oregano
Fresh parsley – about 2-3 TBSP chopped finely
3 TBSP EVOO
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP lemon zest
Thin slices of lemon
2 Roma tomatoes – medium sliced
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400
Wash and dry the salmon well. Salt and pepper it. Cut four pieces of foil large enough to accommodate the ingredients and have enough room to fold over and seal.
In a bowl add the shallots, capers, lemon zest and juice, EVOO, salt, fresh cracked pepper, parsley, garlic powder and herbs. Mix well.
A small amount of the marinade on top of the foil and add the tomato slices. Then place the asparagus on top and season with a pinch of salt and cracked pepper. Add the lemon slices and place the salmon filet on top and spoon the remaining marinade over. Grab the tops of the foil and fold over, and grab the ends and seal tightly. Repeat with the other 3 salmon filets.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes till the salmon is done.
Can be plated in each individual package or removed with a spatula and placed on the plates.
EN PAPILLOTE GINGER SOY COD
1 TSP white miso paste
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 TSP sesame oil
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TSP lemongrass paste – Gourmet Garden Brand
1 TSP ginger paste – Gourmet Garden
1 TSP fresh chopped Thai basil – or regular basil
1 TSP clover honey
1½ TBSP Mirin cooking wine
1½ LBS of white flaky fish – halibut, black cod, rock fish or tilapia
½ LB of fresh shitake mushrooms – sliced roughly
1 PKG of snow peas, chopped baby Bok Choy or fresh spinach
Thin lemon slices (optional)
½ cup of chopped scallions – garnish (optional)
1 TBSP black or white toasted sesame seeds – garnish (optional)
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400F
Whisk the ingredients together to make the marinade. Cut the fish filets to 4 portions and marinade them for 30 minutes in the fridge, remove and allow them to sit out for about half an hour to remove some of the chill from the fridge.
Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper approximately 14”x 14” and place the shitakes and sliced bok choy down first and spoon a bit of the fish marinade on top. Add a piece of cod on top of the veggies and ladle 2 TBSP of the marinade over the fish. Place some slices of lemon next to the fish and grab the top of the paper, roll downwards and close the sides tucking the paper under or tie the ends with some kitchen twine, ensuring the packages are closed tightly so juices don’t escape. Place the packages on an oven tray and bake for 12-14 minutes until the fish is no longer transparent and flakes easily with a fork. Place the packages on a plate or remove contents and serve over fragrant jasmine rice.