Literally translated, fish "en papillote" means fish "in parcel." This is one of my absolute favorite ways to prepare fish, as it’s quick and creates marvelously moist, tender, and flavorful fish.
My kids love having their own little packet, and breaking them open to see what’s inside is so much fun. This preparation essentially allows you to use whatever fish, veggies, herbs, and flavorings you have on hand. The possibilities are endless, and in most cases are low in calories and high in flavor. The fish and veggies are sealed in a packet of parchment paper, so they steam themselves and become infused with whatever seasonings you’re using.
This time around I used a new product called Sauté Express® Sauté Starter from Land O’Lakes. It’s found in the dairy aisle of the grocery store by the regular butter products, but this one is a bit different. It contains real Land O Lakes® Butter, but it also has olive oil and different herbs and spices mixed right in, so it is great for quick weeknight meals when you don’t want to take the time to chop or measure out ingredients, but still want big flavor.
Sauté Express Sauté Starter comes in 4 flavors: Garlic and Herb, Italian Herb, Savory Butter and Olive Oil, and Lemon Pepper. Each package contains six squares, which are two servings each. The idea is that they can be used to cook and season in one step, which is exactly what I used it for while making this fish. A few more recipes and meal ideas can be found on sauteexpress.com (which has a really neat design, by the way) if you’re interested. I really had fun incorporating the different flavors into my family’s meals. They add so much flavor with so little work. It’s amazing.
For this cooking technique, any variety of fish will work. I used tilapia this time, and have previously used salmon, trout, cod, and halibut. The only difference will be your cooking time, based on the variety of fish. Try to stick to a four ounce filet for each parcel. Medium thickness (like the tilapia I used here) takes about 12 minutes, so adjust accordingly. Place your filet diagonally on one half of a 12″ square piece of parchment paper.
Season with salt and pepper. Next, you’re going to top your fish with whatever combination of vegetables you like. The trick here is to slice them thinly enough that they can cook in the short amount of time that they are in the oven. I used zucchini, yellow squash, and cherry tomatoes in one, and Crimini (baby Portobello) mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese in another.
Go crazy! Raid your fridge, and slice up that half of an onion that always seems to be in there (or am I the only one?). Think out of the box by using broccoli slaw, a little dab of preserves, or maybe even a sliced, sturdy fruit, like a pear.
I love taking the time to arrange the vegetables nicely on the top of the fish because it makes opening up the packet simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking.
“Does it look like it did when I closed it?"
"Are they going to be able to tell I dropped it?"
"Will they ever come to dinner again?”
The next step is to take one Sauté Express square and run it around the entire edge of the parchment paper, and then top the fish and veggies with just a few pats of the sauté starter. Here I used the Savory Butter and Olive Oil flavor for the squash-topped fish, and Italian Herb for the mushroom. I used half of a square, or one serving, for each packet.
Bring two corners of the parchment paper together and seal by pressing along the buttered edge.
Working a 1/4″ at a time, fold, roll and crimp the edges so that you have a nice tight seal all the way around your little packet. You want to be sure that the steam can’t escape so that it stays nice and moist inside.
Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes for medium-thick filets, give or take a few minutes depending on thickness.
Once they are done, serve immediately for the ultimate effect. Breaking open the packets is quite an event. Steam bursts out, panic attacks ensue if the veggies didn’t stay in place, and heavenly aromas fill the air. The Italian herb sauté starter was killer with the mushrooms and tomatoes, and I pretty much wanted to bathe in the cooking juices.
Have I sold you on making these yet? Because if not, I don’t know what to do with you.
**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. **
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