If you've never baked fish inside a package of parchment paper, and you're looking for something new to try, here's how I did it last night. The fish, vegetables and flavourings steam inside the package, and when it's opened at the table, the aroma is mouthwatering!
Each package can be personalized, according to taste, or to what you have available to use. I was using up some grape tomatoes, green onions and part of a red pepper.
Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
Prepare the vegetables and flavourings:
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
12 grape tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 small sprigs of fresh thyme
Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper, approximately 12" X 18" and lie them on the counter, with the short side facing you.
In the centre of each piece of parchment paper, place:
1/4 of the tomatoes
1/4 of the red pepper
1/4 of the green onion
salt and pepper
Next lay 3 pieces of sole on top of the vegetables, lightly sprinkling each piece with black pepper.
Fold the thin ends of the fish fillets under.
Place 1/4 of the capers and 1/4 of the lemon zest on top of the fish.
Fold the parchment to form the packages...
...bring the two short ends towards the centre, and fold them over a few times until they lay flat on top of the fish...
...fold the short sides up towards the fish, as many times as you need to until they are snug against the fish...
Place the packages onto a baking sheet, ready to bake.
Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the parchment packages puff up and the fish is cooked through.
To serve, place each package on a plate, along with vegetables. I served roasted rosemary potatoes and fresh asparagus. Each person can open their own package; watch out for the steam!! The fish and vegetables are tender and moist, and the aroma and flavours are amazing!
- Baking fish inside a package like this helps to prevent it from drying out during cooking. There's nothing worse than dry, overcooked fish.
- What you choose to bake with the fish depends on what you have available, and who you are feeding...these little packages can be personalized. I had one person who didn't like capers, so they were omitted. If you have small amounts of vegetables or herbs, each person can have a different flavour combination.
- Any type of fish can be used. I was using sole, and I layered the fillets on top of each other as they are very thin, and cook really quickly. By layering them, I created a thicker piece of fish, which took longer to cook, allowing the flavours time to infuse into the fish.
- Some ideas to try: salmon with thinly sliced green onion, baby bok choy halved lengthwise, thinly sliced red pepper, minced garlic and ginger and a drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil; red snapper with thinly sliced leeks and fennel bulb, orange zest and fresh parsley; firm white fish such as cod with peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes, olives, capers and lemon; trout with shredded spinach, white wine and fresh thyme.
- If you use smaller items such as halibut cheeks, scallops or chunks of fish, the cooking time will need to be adjusted as they will cook quickly. To accommodate this, it would be best to use only fresh herbs, zest, spices or thinly sliced green onions rather than larger pieces of vegetables.
- Leafy greens such as bok choy or shredded spinach can be used as a base for the fish.
- Herbs that complement fish include dill, cilantro, chives, parsley, basil or thyme.
- Small amounts of liquid can be included. White wine, lemon juice, soy sauce or coconut milk. Oils such as sesame oil and olive oil can be used to provide a boost of flavour.
- Spices to be considered include black pepper, chili flakes, cumin, fennel seeds, turmeric or paprika. Try and avoid using too much salt; it can be added at the table.
- Anything that is added to the package with the fish should be cut into small pieces, that will steam in the time that the fish takes to cook.
- If you have a flavoured butter such as herb or garlic, add a small piece to each package. This will add richness as well as flavour. The butter will also combine with the fish and vegetables juices to make a simple butter sauce.
- Smaller fish such as trout or sardines can be baked whole, with the cavity stuffed with fresh herbs, lemon slices and garlic. Just be sure that the scales have been removed before placing the fish in the parchment.
- The packages can be prepared ahead and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.