Use parchment paper to cook healthy and delicious fish

Poisson En Papillote made at The International Culinary Center

Parchment paper does all in a professional kitchen. It removes oil from the surface of soup. It helps pretty little fried potato baskets come out of a mold ever so easily. It cooks vegetables to perfection, and, my recent favorite, it makes for an impressive package to steam fish.

Poisson En Papillote, literally meaning fish cooked in paper, uses white wine, herbs and vegetables to steam fish beautifully. It's is one of the few dishes we've made in class that isn't jam-packed with fat. I know, shocking. But, hey, that's restaurant food for you! For a healthy and delicious meal that's sure to impress, it's hard to beat!

Video: Parchment paper: A great tool for cooking fish

To learn how to cook fish in parchment paper, watch the video above!

Click here for more of my favorite fish recipes we learned in class. 

Poisson En Papillote
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Tip: Keep the folds small and brush egg white on the folds between repetitions. Two rounds of folding should be sufficient. Don't over-fold or there won't be enough room for the package to puff up. The fish will cook as steam builds up in the parchment paper. If it isn't tightly sealed, the fish won't cook correctly.

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 4 fillets red snapper, tilefish or bass
  • 2T vegetable oil
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • White wine
  • 1 recipe tomato fondue (see below)
  • 1 recipe mushroom duxelles (see below)
  • Vegetable garniture see below)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

1. Cut a sheet of parchment paper into a heart shape. Season the fillets with salt and pepper.

2. Place 2T of the mushroom duxelles and 2T of the tomato fondue on each piece of parchment, side by side. Place the fillet on top. Top with the vegetable garniture (enough to cover fillet) and a sprig of thyme. Moisten with a few splashes of white wine.

3. Brush the edges of the paper heart with the lightly beaten egg white, fold the paper heart in half, and press the edges together to seal. Brush the edges of the folded package with the beaten egg white. Make a series of short folds along the edges. For an extra-secure seal, brush it again with egg white and repeat the short folds. Using a pastry brush, very lightly oil the top of the papillote.

4, Place papillotes on a sheet pan and place in the preheated oven. They are usually done when completely puffed, about 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

5. Serve the fish in the papillote.


Tomato Fondue

  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Thyme sprig
  • Parsley sprig
  • Bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Peel (emonder) tomatoes (learn how to peel tomatoes)

2. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally and squeeze out the seeds. Coarsely chop them.

3. In saute pan, sweat the shallots and garlic in butter or oil until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes. Cover with a parchment paper lid cut to the size of the pan with a small hole in the center (see video on making glazed vegetables). Cook on low heat until all the excess water has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Mushroom Duxelles

  • 3/4 cup diced mushrooms, about 3 (button mushrooms are great for this!)
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Rinse mushrooms and toss in lemon juice. Dry mushrooms well. Chop the mushrooms by hand or in the food processor (be careful not to puree).

2. In a saute pan, sweat the shallots in butter, without achieving any color, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the chopped mushrooms. Cover with a parchment-paper lid cut to the size of the pan with a small hole in the center. Cook the mushrooms until there is no liquid left in the pan. They should be moist but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Vegetable Garniture

  • 1/4 cup carrots, julienne (cut into thin, long strips)
  • 1/4 cup leeks, julienne
  • 1/4 cup celery, julienne
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Place the vegetables in a saute pan.

2. Add cold water a little more than halfway up the sides of the vegetables.

3. Add a pinch of salt and a little butter.

4. Cover with a parchment-paper lid cut to the size of the pan with a whole in the center.

5. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Keep an eye on the vegetables to make sure that the water doesn't evaporate before the vegetables are fully cooked.


  • Alison Stravitz

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