Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bass en Papillote

Make a little envelope out of parchment paper in which to cook something...
It's a beautiful technique to use- both for outcomes of presentation and flavor.

The strongest point is that the en papillote method makes delicate fish moist- instead of dry and tough- since all the steam, liquid and flavor is trapped inside that one little compact package.
Another good thing is that fat or oil isn't really necessary to keep things moist.
Flavors are concentrated since there's nowhere for them to disappear to in such a small space.
Cleanup is easy, too...

It's nice for people to be able to open the packages at table, then slide the contents (juices and all) onto their plates.

You need to start with large pieces of parchment paper (I tear off an approximate 12-inch square from the roll, maybe even a bit larger).
Fold the paper in half and cut it into a large heart shape (the cutesy factor soon disappears... you're the only one who knows it's a heart when this is all finished unless someone happens upon you cutting huge valentines out of parchment paper in your kitchen... my recommendation is to lock the door if it really worries you, unless you want to make an excuse about getting a head-start for next year).

The paper should be large enough to leave at least a couple inches on each side when a piece of fish is laid in a halved heart.

Fish is placed in one half of the buttered heart papers, seasoned, and folded to seal.
Starting at the top (rounded) part of the heart, you make overlapping pleats, twisting tightly but gently at the tip end of the heart to seal it closed.
Voila. You have your cute little packages.

When baked the parchment will brown a bit.
The drier the heat in the oven, the browner the packages...
And if the seal is tight enough, the packages should puff a bit, too.

Bass en Papillote
serves 6

6, 6-8 oz. bass fillets
butter, softened
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme sprigs
1-2 lemons, thinly sliced
1-2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 c white wine
olive oil

parchment paper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Fold 6 large squares of parchment paper in half and cut into heart shapes.
Rub or paint the inside of each heart with butter. Don't be too rough, you don't want to tear the paper.
Place a fish filet about two inches from the folded seam in the center of half of the heart. Season with salt and pepper. Place a couple sprigs of fresh thyme over the fish, top with two slices of lemon, and sprinkle with shallot rings. Pour a 1/2 T splash of white wine over the fish and drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
Beginning with the rounded top of the heart, fold overlapping pleats all the way around the rounded side of the heart. At the pointed end twist the paper to seal as airtight as possible. Repeat with remaining paper and fish.
Carefully place fish packages in a single layer on a large sheet pain with sides (just in case)... you may need two pans.
Place pan in the center of the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, or until the packages are browned and puffed.
Serve hot in the packages.


  1. We LOVED your funny "valentine" what if the folks you made this for find out?
    They will laugh at you, because they probably think you are very funny! Are you funny?