A Fast Fish Dish

Say that three times in a row.

There is something so wonderful about fresh seafood. Maybe because it reminds me of growing up with a grandfather who spent his free time on the river fishing, crabbing, shrimping, or boating. Living off the coast of Georgia has many benefits, but it’s the fresh, local catches from the sea that are among the most delicious.

Yet I get tired of preparing fish the same old way. Pan fried with a lemon butter sauce. Deep fried with tarter sauce. Broiled with lemon slices and fresh ground pepper.

So, I turned to the French cooking that so many are afraid of. The French knew how to artfully prepare any seafood, but their fish fillet cooked in parchment paper is one of the fastest and most flavorful. You can even prepare the enclosed fish ahead of time and bake them off when you get home from work or when your dinner guests arrive. And the best part: clean-up is a breeze.

Poisson en Papillote

  • filet of fish (salmon, tilapia, sole, snapper)
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons parsley or dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon shallots, finely chopped
  • thin slices of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or vermouth
  • seasonal vegetables, such as carrots, leeks, cucumber, julienned and blanched (optional)
  • egg whites or egg wash to seal packets
  • parchment paper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Take a sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half. Using a sharp paring knife or a pair of scissors, cut out a half heart shape along the fold of the paper (just like how you made a valentine in kindergarten). Unfold the paper and you should have a heart-shaped piece of parchment.

Place the fillet of fish on one side of the heart with the narrow end of the fillet pointing towards the narrow end of the heart. Brush fish with melted butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbs and chopped shallots. Lay lemon slices on top and pour wine over the top.

Fold and crimp the parchment heart to enclose. Use the egg whites to seal edges and then brush top of packet with egg whites.

Place packet on sheet pan and bake for 5-7 minutes then remove from oven. Cut a small slit in the corner of the packet then return to the oven for another minute.

Remove from oven and serve immediately. The parchment should be cut open in front of the guest.

Serve with a simple green salad, crusty French bread and a glass of your favorite white wine.


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