Fish en papillote is basically fish steamed in a little packet. It's actually a great dish to pull out when you're cooking in someone else's kitchen. It has a limited number of ingredients, and all it requires is an oven and some parchment paper or tinfoil.
You can play with the recipe a LOT. Start with a layer of greens like spinach, top with fish, then add a drizzle of olive oil and whatever else floats your boat. If you happen to have some random herbs around, throw 'em in! Got a lemon? Why not? No olives? Who cares?
For this recipe I am sticking to Mediterranean flavors, with lemon, thyme, tomato, red onion and black olive flavoring the dish. It's fun when everyone gets to cut open their own little packet, and this delicious smell billows out to reveal the flaky fish inside. Plus, it's fast and healthy.
The packet technique begs some explanation, so I have included a little tutorial below. If you only have tinfoil, that totally works and it's a little easier to put together, but the final presentation isn't quite as nice.
Fish En Papillote
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 12 min Total Time: 30 min
4 individual servings of white fish (I used cod)
4 handfuls of spinach or other greens
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced
8 sprigs of thyme
Half a small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup / 225 g cherry tomatoes, sliced
10 black olives, pitted and slivered
Preheat oven to 375F / 190C.
Start with a large rectangle of parchment paper and fold in half. Cut into a broad heart shape. Half of the heart should be the size of a medium dinner plate.
Place a handful of spinach on one side of the heart, and top with fish seasoned with salt and pepper. Drizzle over olive oil, then layer on herbs, lemon slices (or a squeeze of juice), tomatoes, red onion and olives.
Fold other side of paper over fish. Starting at the middle indentation of the heart (not the pointy end), carefully fold parchment paper in small folds, all the way around the fish. Make many small folds so the steam is contained within the packet. Once you get to the end, tuck the edge under the packet so the weight of the fish holds the packet shut.
Repeat with additional packets and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.
To serve, just put the packet on a plate and cut a small slit in the top. You want a bit of steam to vent so it doesn't blow up in anyone's face at the dinner table. I usually serve with sharp steak knives so my guests can just cut the rest of the packet open themselves.