Friday, February 24, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Fish en Papillote and more!

Fish en Papillote sounds so fancy and so complicated, but it's actually very simple. Fish is enclosed in parchment along with some flavorings and a bit of liquid. The fish cooks gently and is infused with the flavors.

And it cooks quickly. And unattended. No need for poking or prodding or flipping. This time, I cooked the fish in the oven, but I've also done this in the microwave.

I know, cooking meat in a microwave seems so wrong, but I saw a Good Eats episode where Alton Brown did just that, and I tried it. The reason it works is that the microwave heats the liquid which turns to steam, and that steam does most of the cooking.

This recipe is just as good for one or two people as it is for a crowd. And, if you've got a few people with particular food requirements, you can customize the individual servings. The parchment packets keep everyone's food separate, so onion-haters won't find stray onions on their plates.

Cooking time will vary a bit, depending on how thick the fish is, so it's not a bad idea to have an extra serving that you can open and peek into. When choosing a fish for this cooking method, ask the fishmonger what he has and what he recommends. I used sole fillets.

You can serve these in the parchment, or remove them and plate them. Another bonus of this cooking method is that the parchment package hold the heat in, so it gives you a little extra wiggle room between cooking and serving.

Since these are assembled per person, you can make as many - or as few - as you need. The recipe is for one portion.

Since the fish was so pale, I chose a bright and festive side dish.

Fish en Papillote

1 fish fillet
3 thin slices lemon (or meyer lemon)
Several thin slices of onion
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of herbs (optional)  - I used thyme, but dill is classic.
1 teaspoon olive oil or butter
1 tablespoon white wine or dry sherry

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fold a piece of parchment paper in half, and cut it in a heart shape.

Open it, and put the fish on one side of the open heart. Scatter the sliced onions on on the fish and put the sliced lemon on top. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs. Add the oil or butter, and drizzle on the wine or sherry.

Fold the empty half of the heart over the fish.

Beginning with the non-pointy side of the heart, begin making small overlapping folds along the edge of the heart, continuing all the way to the pointed end. This seals the packet.

Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until the fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Serve in the parchment packets or plate the fish, if you prefer.

Note: the packets are full of steam, so it's a good idea to wait a minute or two before opening them, and be cautious of the escaping steam.

Endive Boats

Since the fish was pale, I decided it needed a bright accompaniment. These endive boats are easy to prepare and offer bright color and a variety of tastes and textures. I used pickled beets from MMLocal.

Endive leaves vary in size - choose some that aren't so big that they're a taco, but large enough to hold the three bite-sized components.

Endive Boats

Endive leaves
Pickled beets
Blood orange segments or supremes

Separate the endive into leaves and clean them. Trim the bottom so it looks nice.

Cut the beets into bite-sized pieces that will fit inside the endive comfortably. Pat them dry to help prevent the color from migrating everywhere.

Arrange a piece of pickled beet, a small dollop of chevre, and a segment (or supreme, if prefer on each endive leaf. Serve.

This post was sponsored by Whole Foods. For more info see the Whole Foods Friday tab at the top.