Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fish En Papillote, Basa

I actually did end up baking something "en papillote" as per July's Daring Cook's challenge. I used to cook salmon en papillote all the time; it was one of the first things I really made consistently when I moved away from home. It's easy, delicious, healthy, and it doesn't leave many dishes--a perfect University meal when you're tired of going to the meal hall. But this delicious fish story has a tragic ending.

To my ongoing dismay, over the past year or so I've developed a weird fish allergy. To make a boring story short, recent success eating piles of tuna tataki led to me try other fish, which led to me be COVERED IN HIVES.

In any case, I didn't make any of the fancy pasta en papillote recipes that some of the other Daring Cooks impressed me with (though I may make the fruit recipes in the future). Fish en papillote is literally just a matter of topping your fillet of fish with whatever flavours you'd like and then wrapping it up and tossing it in the oven for 20 minutes at 450F. I prefer the traditional method of wrapping, which is easier than it seems. Basically, you fold some parchment paper in half and cut out a fat half-heart-shape as you might have done when you were making Valentine's cards in grade school. Open the heart (or the butterfly, I suppose) and pile your fish-and-stuff on one side before folding the other side of the parchment heart back over. Start at the pointy part of the half-heart and make little double-folds all around the edge, overlapping each fold all the way up the side so that each subsequent fold anchors the last one. You can see that in the picture below if you look hard enough. It's easier than it sounds, and it doesn't need to be perfect, so long as the package gets closed. Usually when I get to the end of the folding, there's a little tail of paper that I sort of wrap under the package.

If you've ever done origami, this will be a snap.
If you can eat salmon with impunity, I recommend trying salmon en papillote. My default flavourings were always either lemon with shallots, or ginger and soy. In both cases I liked to add some fat (butter or peanut oil, respectively), but you don't have to. Salt and pepper, of course.

baking in parchment

I baked the basa with lemon, basil and garlic scapes, and it was perfectly lovely. I didn't actually end up all itchy until the tilapia that I fried in butter the next day (I might have been over-eager about reintroducing fish). I didn't get a good photo of the finished dish, because I gobbled down all of the garlic scapes in the three seconds it took to get to the table. Baked garlic scapes are shockingly delicious.

baked garlic scapes

"Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”."

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