When it comes to concocting an evening meal, once in awhile I’m tempted to take the easy way out, and that “easy” way infrequently includes selecting less-than-wholesome dishes for the sake of saving time. My readers who identify with this work-week, beat-the-clock mentality will certainly sympathize. But fear not—there are solutions.
We’ve discussed the technique of steaming before, but I have a new twist for this installment. Steaming en papillote (or “in parchment”) is an ideal way to create delicate dishes without adding too much additional fat (there’s a little butter, a dash of oil, and that’s it). And because the enveloped entrees are self-contained, the vessel retains aroma, and the meat becomes infused with flavor. Also, it makes the perfect serving size, because a little portion control goes a long way.
It may not look too appealing, but after your papillotes are pulled from the oven, serve them in the pouch, cutting them open directly before you serve your guests. This recipe calls for white bass, but really you can use any medium-sized white fish. The flesh is so supple that it doesn’t take much to steam to perfection.
Even if you’re racing against the work-week clock, this healthful time-saver deserves a shot.
Fish fillet en papillote
1 pound fish fillets
1 bulb baby bok choy, thin slice
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice (basil, thyme, dill), chopped
3 tablespoons white wine or vermouth
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, thin slice
As needed, olive oil
To taste, kosher salt and pepper
1 piece of parchment paper (not wax paper)
1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Fold parchment in half, and on the folded side, cut out the shape of half a heart (meaning when you open it up, parchment should resemble a full heart). Place a mixture of vegetables on parchment side closest to fold, drizzle with a little oil and season lightly. Place fish fillets on top of vegetables, and season lightly; add on sliced butter. Starting with the pointed, bottom-end of the heart-shaped parchment, begin crimping the paper, making sure you seal well. Work your way up to the top, allowing for a small opening to pour in the wine. Now crimp entire package to seal completely.
2. Place papillote on a sheetpan, and place in the oven. Steam for roughly 10 to 12 minutes or until the fish is firm to the touch (pressing against the parchment, of course). Open papillotes immediately, serving with natural broth as a sauce.
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