Dressed to Impress: En Papillote

"En Papillote" is basically a posh denomination for a fun and easy way of cooking. Often applied to fish it can also be used for chicken or vegetables on their own.

All what you have to do is slice thinly the vegetables, wrap all the items in a parchment or a tin foil and cook the parcel in the oven gas mark 200C for 20 minutes or on the barbecue so that the food cooks in its own juices, keeping the moisture in the bag which will swell with hot steam. When cook slide the bag on the diner's plate and watched at they unwrapped their parcel, never falls to impress, serve with new potatoes or couscous or rice

It is an healthy way of cooking which suits perfectly food with delicate flavour here are some ideas:

Dry vermouth or dry white wine, thyme, parsley, dill with fennel, carrot, celery and shallot or onion.

note that fennel has a strong flavour which is not to every body's taste could be replaced by leek

A taste of the East : Soya sauce, a splash of sherry, just a drop of sesame oil with julienne of ginger, garlic, sweet peas

Be adventurous: White wine or dry vermouth, tangerine or orange slices, fennel, red onion, chives

Provencal style: Chopped (seeded, drained) tomatoes, olives, oregano,capers, garlic.

North African way: garlic clove, 1 tsp cumin seeds, extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1 lemon + zest or one finely chopped preserved lemon,1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded 1 bunch coriander, salt & pepper to taste

Now for the more complex question of which fish? whole gutted and clean trouts, soles, salmon fillets, breams mostly farmed so sustainable, they never achieve the same flavour as there "free range" counterpart but when it comes to cod should we still provide a demand when stock are being depleted? is there still plenty of fish in the sea?
My understanding is that the quotas are not doing much good as a lot of the cod is caught by trawling-nets when fishing other species and then thrown back in the sea. As consumers we seem to be only a small part of the answer, the solution resting firmly with the political powers and the fishing industry.
My answer to that one is that I have not stopped buying cod but I diversify what I buy and look out for new yummy recipes, don't hesitate to comment would love to know how you tackle the issue.


Chef JP said...

The Papillotte method orginated in New Orleans I believe, where they used a firm fleshed Pompano fillets. I've prepared it many times in restaurants & found boneless trout fillets to be very consistent and flavorful.

Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup said...

AH! that may well be the case, I have looked into the origins and I can't find a "for certain" answer. Where I come from : Lyon in France, the tradition is papillotes for Xmas, father Xmas gets his too. Now be reassured nothing to do with fish, these are made of chocolate, a joke and a small "petard"/cracker.



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