I have always liked fish and seafood, probably helped growing up along the coast and having parents who liked to try different things. My dad didn’t cook, but loved making weekend trips to either the fish shop or the game butcher to see what took his fancy, and my mum was happy to look up her trusty cookbooks to figure out what to make with whatever he brought back, if she hadn’t tried it before. These days we still eat fish regularly, and I’m so glad we have a great fish shop around the corner (I don’t know that I could live too far from the coast and not have such good access to fish!). However largely due to my son’s preferences, and I guess a bit from ease, we generally get salmon. I do vary how I cook it but even still, it’s nice to have something different now and then. When I saw that this month’s Fish Friday Foodies was going to be themed ‘en papillote’ (see more below) I was determined I was NOT going to use salmon, although this is one of the ways we often have salmon. After a bit of thought I came up with this halibut en papillote with an Asian-style salsa verde and I have to say it was delicious. So good, in fact, we may have to make it a more regular thing.
‘En papillote’, if you are not familiar with the term means ‘in parchment’ and is a way of kind of baking and steaming at the same time. You can use either parchment paper or foil, as you prefer. Paper looks a little nicer for serving, foil is a little easier to get it to hold together so whichever is more important, or that you have on hand. It’s a great way to cook fish as you don’t need any fat for cooking, although you can add a little for flavor, and the fish cooks nice and evenly – no burnt bits or dried out corners. You can also cook vegetables at the same time in the same ‘package’ although they generally have to be able to cook relatively quickly. Summer vegetables can be good, or some others in thin strips or small chunks.
I’m looking forward to seeing the other ideas people are sharing today, but to me there are a few main ways to cook fish en papillote – the simple traditional way with lemon and butter, with summer vegetables and herbs, or Asian-flavored. I wanted to be a little more experimental than the traditional, and it’s not exactly the season for summer vegetables, so Asian flavorings it was. I saw a few recipes for sesame-ginger flavorings, which I like the flavors of, but was keen to have it a bit fresher and herby, so I decided to go with a kind of salsa verde with Asian flavors ie cilantro, lime, ginger and lemongrass.
This halibut en papillote is really easy to make as you simply blend up the sauce ingredients, cut the vegetables then put them in your parchment/foil, lay the fish on top and put the sauce over it. Seal it up and bake in the oven. You can put some of the sauce on both sides of the fish as I did, thinking it would go in to the vegetables a bit more, but I don’t think it did so much that it’s worth worrying about. There’s no one set way to seal up the pouch, but one way that works fairly well is to have a longer strip of paper or foil and put the fish across it so you have a longer piece above and below, then bring the two ends together and roll them down towards the fish. Then you either fold in the sides or roll them over the top, whichever is easier – you just want to make sure you stop the contents escaping and have it relatively sealed. An alternative way is to use more of a circle, fold it in half and roll almost as you would the edge of an empanada/pasty to join it up. Exactly how you get it to work is up to you, you just want it as close to sealed as you can to let it steam and keep the contents in.
We had this with some coconut rice, as well as the daikon radish and carrots that were cooked with the fish, but you could also have a salad or just have a little more of the vegetables if you would prefer. This dish has subtle flavors, is easy to make but feels like a more complex meal than it is. It’s fresh and flavorsome, and definitely worth trying. So give it a go!
Halibut 'en papillote' with an Asian salsa verde
- 1 carrot medium-large
- 5 oz daikon radish 140g, 1 small or part if larger
- 3/4 lb halibut 340g
For the sauce
- 1/2 oz cilantro 14g coriander, a packed 1/4 cup
- 1 tbsp lemongrass minced
- 1/2 tbsp ginger grated/minced
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- Julienne the carrots and daikons - if you have a tool, great, otherwise cut them into relatively thin long slices and then cut up the slices to give matchsticks. Put them on either some parchment paper or foil on a baking sheet or in a dish - the piece needs to be big enough it will go over the stack of vegetables and the fish with a little overlap.
- Whizz up the sauce ingredients (cilantro, lemongrass, ginger, lime, sesame oil and vegetable oil) in a small blender/food processor.
- Put the fish on top of the vegetables and put the sauce over the top of the fish (you can put some on both sides of the fish if you like but I don't know it makes that much difference).
- Fold together the two longer sides of the paper/foil over the vegetables and fish and roll down to be relatively close against the fish. Fold in or tuck together the sides so you hopefully don't have anything escape as it cooks.
- Bake for approx 30 minutes until the fish is cooked through - exact time will depend on the thickness of the fish.
- (Serving suggestion with coconut rice.)
Try these other tasty ways with fish:
See all the other ‘en papillote’ ideas being shared today – thanks to Karen from Karen’s Kitchen Stories for hosting this month: