I love seafood of any sort. We’re so lucky to be living in this part of the country where the cold waters of the North Atlantic provide us with some of the best-tasting seafood. OK, so I’ve never had the seafood of the Pacific Northwest, which I have heard is fantastic – but I have eaten warm water seafood from the south, as well as seafood throughout various parts of Europe, yet I still wax melodic about New England’s.
Cooking seafood as simply as possible is the best way to enjoy it: a nice tuna steak fresh off the grill in the summertime, or a nice bowl of mussels steamed in their own juices with a little bit of broth made from white wine and garlic. Delish.
I’m a big proponent of letting seafood be the star of the dish. That means no unnecessary sauces, marinades or “crusts” to detract from its fresh, crisp, and delicious taste. Just a little bit of olive oil and a lemon is all that’s really needed to dress it up.
Cooking in individual packets is a technique known as “en papillote,” in which the food is put into a folded pouch and then baked. The pouch is generally made with parchment paper, but aluminum foil can also be used. It holds in the moisture and steams the food. The moisture can come from the food itself, or from another source such as a tiny bit of water, wine, or stock. The result is a very juicy and tender protein, infused with any flavors that you add via herbs or vegetables. You can get very creative with your flavors. En papillote is generally done with fish or chicken.
Cooking “en papillote” is a nice way to enjoy a quick, simple, healthy, and very delicious meal. The best part is that there is virtually no clean-up! You just toss the parchment packet. The presentation is also impressive if you happen to have dinner guests – each person gets his or her own little packet.
Salmon “en Papillote”
- Parchment paper
- 10 oz salmon fillet, cut into two portion sizes
- Olive oil
- Garlic Powder
- Paprika (for color)
- Your favorite vegetables, optional but any of the following are nice: carrots, onions, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, leeks
Preheat oven to 375. Cut a piece of parchment large enough to fully envelope the fish and place in a baking dish. Place one piece of fish in the center. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil. No other moisture is needed because the salmon will release its own juices as it cooks. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and some paprika for color. Place a few slices of lemon along the top of the fish.
Crimp the sides of the packet and then along the top until the packet is fully enclosed.
Cook for roughly 30-35 minutes. Once you can smell the fish and the lemon, it’s done. Remove from the oven and carefully open the pouch by cutting a slit in it and letting the steam escape first and then unwrap entirely.