Monday, February 9, 2009

Fish en Papillote

So that is the picture from last night... Fish en Papillote, which sounds fancy but is just fish wrapped in parchment paper/aluminum foil and baked until the bag puffs up. In a move that will surprise nobody who knows me... I picked a recipe out of the latest Cook's Illustrated to try this technique. This is one of those cases where they pretend like they had this brilliant inspiration to use aluminum foil instead of parchment when, really, everybody has been doing that since there was aluminum foil... but whatever. Since Anna, while a recovering vegan, still has no desire to eat animal flesh, I halved the recipe with plans to cook it on consecutive nights. They said either cod, halibut, red snapper, or sea bass would work... and I was planning on cod, but when I got to the fish counter I felt weird about ordering two 6 oz fillets. Can you even do that? It seems that people order fish in the same way they order meat, which is by the pound... but the serving size is 6 oz, so that doesn't work. Butchers and fishmongers make me nervous because I feel like I should know what I'm doing when I get up there. I should have asked... but there were Chilean Sea Bass fillets already cut up into portions and sitting right there, so instead of the affordable, yet delicious, cod I ended up with the $18 per pound environment destructing extravagance. A good lesson on being assertive and asking questions... otherwise you end up with the socially irresponsible fish and feel guilty about it later.

It was really good though.

First, all you do is julienne a (medium)carrot and a leek(white and light green parts)... which is fun, even though my cuts were far from uniform. Toss them with salt and pepper and portion them onto two 12 inch sheets of foil and pour a tablespoon of white wine (or vermouth) over each. Next you have to mix the flavored butter, which is: two tablespoons of softened butter, half a teaspoon of minced garlic, half a teaspoon of minced fresh thyme, 1/8 teaspoon of lemon zest, and a dash of salt and pepper all stirred together in a small bowl. Pat dry the two fillets with a paper towel, and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper, before placing each fillet on a separate mound of carrots and leeks. Coat each fillet with half the butter mixture, and place a second piece of foil on top of each "assembly". Then you just fold over each of the edges 1/2 an inch and repeat three times to get a nice tight packet. Stick it into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes(or until it puffs up) and voilĂ ... Fish en Papillote.

One thing I learned... don't use dried thyme. I had forgotten to pick some up, and stupidly threw away our last lonely sprig... which would have been just enough... and substituted the dried herb because... eh, why not? Well, because it burned. It didn't mar the flavor really, but it didn't look super awesome. Also the recipe only says that you can set the packets aside for a few hours... not 24... so we'll see how the second packet I saved for tonight does. I'm not worried about the fish or butter... but what will happen to the leeks and carrots? We shall see.