Cooking halibut in a neat little package
After a long summer of grilling, and lots of heavy proteins, it’s a refreshing change to make a light fish dish that you can just throw in the oven and forget about. Cooking fish is notoriously unforgiving, though, so it’s nice to have some tricks that make this a little bit easier.
The first time I learned about cooking fish (or anything for that matter) in parchment paper, I was in awe. Who knew you could wrap something in paper and get such a delicately cooked dish at the end. I was also shocked that you could throw parchment paper in the oven without it burning (warning, don’t try this with wax paper — something altogether different). The paper creates a self-contained steam oven, so you simply put something as delicate as fish in the oven, and don’t need to worry about drying it out. This is particularly great since lean fish can easily be overcooked.
I love using parchment paper since the flavours are contained and concentrated in each packet. The fish becomes infused with the ingredients, which allows you to impart lots of flavour without having to marinate the fish beforehand. I really like using this method when I have people coming over for dinner. Each person gets their own package, and as they cut it open (perfectly acceptable presentation method), a puff of steam escapes and creates a dramatic flair for the guest.
I love eating fish, and in fact I wish I cooked it more than I do; having this cooking method in my repertoire allows me to create perfect meals without having to worry about overcooking. It’s really easy to change up the flavours (white wine and thyme, pesto, etc.), so don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s in the bag.
halibut en papillote
4 halibut pieces, 200 g each
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 pieces of parchment paper (12×12”)
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place large baking sheet in oven to heat. Season both sides of the halibut with salt and pepper. In a bowl mix together tomatoes, olives and garlic.
Place each piece of halibut in the centre of an individual slice of parchment paper. Add lemon and olive oil to each package. Cover fish with fennel and tomato mixture evenly.
Pick up the two sides of the parchment paper that run along the long side of each fish piece and press together — creating a tent. Fold down several times, as length allows. Next take the open sides and fold over twice and tuck under the fish (weight will keep this pressed down).
Place fish on heated baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until fish is firm.
Match: Serve with basmati rice and a light Viognier.