En Papillote Technique
1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single
portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with
oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming
soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil
instead of parchment paper.
2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such
as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick
size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases
the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper
doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.
3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables
with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around
for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them
up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and
the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the
remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add
4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles
a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward
the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment,
folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold
to finish the seal.
5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of
the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds.
When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With
a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic
presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.