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Feb 7, 2007 08:49 AM

Questions about fish in papillote

I'm working on a recipe for fish in papillote for my in-laws on Friday night and I have a few questions. I'm thinking of using a non-salmon fish (they don't eat salmon) with some thinly sliced potatoes and leeks. The questions are...

1) What temperature is best? (I've seen everything from 400-500F)
2) How do I know when the fish is done?
3) Do I need to pre-cook the veggies?
4) What seasonings and liquids do you think would work well?
5) How much liquid should I add?
6) How far in advance can I prep the packets?
7) What kinds of fish work best for this technique?

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  1. 1) I'd go around 475F
    2) Generally you should cook fish 10 mins per inch for it to be cooked, but not overcooked
    3) Perhaps parboil them since it won't take very long to cook the fish
    4) olive oil, I like fresh thyme or dill. Fresh ground black pepper, salt. Squeeze of lemon juice. A little lemon zest is nice. Maybe some diced tomatoes.
    5) I usually just drizzle with olive oil, no other liquid
    6) you could prep them hours in advance and refrigerate
    7) I like red snapper and halibut, I think any meaty white fish works well.

    1. -High oven at least 450
      -Rockfish and snapper are both great for this prep. Slice your veg as thin as possible. If you have a mandoline or slicer use that. I mostly use red onion and fennel plus a few -sprigs of fresh thyme.
      -Olives are a good addition
      -Diced tomatoes
      -a splash of white wine and a splash of olive oil. salt and pepper.
      -I think 20 min. should be enough for a 6 oz. portion.

      Liquid is important b/c you are creating steam but remember that things like tomato and even onion will release water when cooked.
      Trial and error is the best you can do to check for doneness.

      ten minutes per inch sounds extreme.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bolivianita

        Extreme in which direction, too short or too long? If we're talking about 1 inch filets 20 mintues would be twice as long.

        1. re: China

          I don't know what's extreme about it, it's a basic standard:

          It says you might want to add 5 min to the overall cooking time if the fish is wrapped. I don't do that. 10 min per inch and it comes out how I like it.

          Also, I think the ingredients themselves create quite a bit of steam. If you are going to add liquid (wine, stock, etc.), I would only add a little, maybe a couple tablespoons or so per pouch.

          1. re: pescatarian

            I think I was interpereting (sorry if I spelled it wrong) that you meant ten min. per each inch that teh fish is long...that seemed like a lot of minutes. But since you posted back I think you must mean thickness. That makes more sense. I was imagining cooking a 3 inch long piece of fish (Like a filet) for thirty minutes

            1. re: bolivianita

              lol, yes, I meant per inch thickness (I should have indicated that)

      2. When I make fish en papillote, I usually make a fine julienne of leeks, sweat them off in a bit of extra virgin olive oil mixed with butter, then raise the heat and saute some sliced mushrooms very quickly. I deglaze with some dry white wine and let it cook off a bit. I let it cool a bit before topping each fillet of fish with equal portions of the leeks and mushrooms, plus a couple of tablespoons of the very delicious liquid. Top it all off with a sprig of fresh thyme.

        I love to use halibut or escolar. Don't forget to sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper before cooking. I go by the 10 minutes-per-inch guideline (which, in my opinion, works only for individual portions of fish), which I believe is a Canadian thing, at 450F.

        I've made the packages up to 2 hours in advance. Make sure to place the papillotes on a preheated baking sheet to cook.

        1. 1. 425
          2. guess, but I think 10 minutes/inch is too much
          3. No, but julienne the vegetables
          4. Depends on style: e.g., Thai, Chinese, French, ..I use white wine, bit of lime
          5. A shot glass full
          6. couple of hours at most
          7. I wouldn't "waste" salmon; use available white fish or somehting like whole tilapia

          Tip: fold and crimp ever so lightly if using Al foil. Lots of pressure often cuts a hole(s) at the corners, destroying the cooking process.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I prefer to use parchment paper. The presentation is so much nicer, and it's not hard to work with.

            1. re: FlavoursGal

              Spot on. Just that we can't get parchment paper here.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Greased (by brush with oil) paper lunch bags work just as well if you can't get parchment paper.

                1. re: zook

                  Thanks, Zook! ....can't get paper bags either.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Too funny, Sam. The things we do without! Made me chuckle--it's the same here.

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Sam, would it be prohibitively expensive to have it shipped from the States? Although I've been using it extensively for only about 7 years now, I can't imagine not having parchment paper in my kitchen.

                  By the way, the price has come down considerably in the last couple of years.

                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                    I do keep parchment paper on my list when I overnight in the US and have a chance to do a bit of shopping. But I do quite a bit of fish using Al foil given that the paper doesn't last for long. Problem is all the food and other cooking related stuff I lug back home everytime I pass through or briefly work in the US: there is so much stuff at such low prices that, to me, everything I buy is free but the cost (or the decision to buy or not is being able to bring it back.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      You can't get "butcher paper" or brown wrapping paper?

                      1. re: yayadave

                        Hmm...brown wrapping paper...I don't think I've ever seen it here. I'll have to ask at my go-to papelería. Maybe. Good thought, thanks.

                        1. re: cristina

                          I'll be in Taxcoco and Mexico City all next week. Let us know if you find any.

            2. I have never done en papillote. Please tell me what distinctive, marvelous result it yields as opposed to other methods. Is it simply the ohh ahh of the table service?

              I do a lot of fish, but have settled into steam-sauteing in a glass lidded pan (most akin I would think to en papillote), or broiling, or various frying techniques. In all these methods I have direct control of the setting of the flesh, where papillote is a blind method.

              Maybe my hesitance comes from that adolescent Eagle scout merit badge in cooking where the campfire took over my foil-wrapped "hobo dinners" of burger patty and veggies. Their only virtue was in meeting the ravenous requirements of hungry campers with the variously charred and raw bits.

              Convert me and convince me with your passionate outcries and advice, or I shall keep my parchment for my cookies.