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What can I wrap fish in to bake it that is natural?

I'm going to cook some salmon tonight and I'd like to bake it. Usually I'd do this by wrapping it in aluminum foil, but I'd like to stop using aluminum foil and use something natural. Someone in another thread mentioned wrapping it in blanched lettuce leaves, which sounds lovely, I just have no other call for lettuce at the moment so I am remiss to buy a head just to have it go bad.

What about corn husks like tamales are wrapped it? I've never used them, but is it ok to bake them in the oven?

Any other ideas?

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  1. parchment paper. banana leaf.

    1. Salmon wrapped in grape leaves is really nice.

      1. Individual portions wrapped in thinly sliced raw potato. I think you need to brown the packet, then finish in the oven.

        1. Banana leaves or lotus leaves. If you use dried lotus leaves, soak them in warm water first for about half an hour.

          1. Great suggestions! I'm going to head to the store in a bit and see what they have.

            But what should I tie it with?

            Thanks so much!

            1. All great suggestions. Wrapping in parchment is a common French cooking technique (en papillote). I like this recipe for Fish Fillets in Parchment With Asparagus & Orange: http://www.recipezaar.com/fish-fillet...
              You don't need to tie it, just fold.

              1. Banana leaf, ti leaf, yam (Dioscorea) or sweet potato (Ipomoea) leaves, and any of the sturdy cabbage and kale leaves.

                1. If the wrappers like banana leaf, lotus, etc are not readily available, you can also smother the salmon in herbs from the top and bottom. Handfuls of fresh herbs of choice on top and bottom and baked. It is not the enclosed packet but it imparts a lovely flavor and also helps keep it moist. I recently did a bed of fennel greens (wild in So Cal) and onion, topped with handfuls of the herbs busting out now. Any greens can be a base or a wrap from chard (having an overpopulation issue in the garden now) to napa cabbage.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: torty

                    That's right! Jamie Oliver wrapped a salmon in a LOT of greens and then with wet newspaper and grilled the whole packet!

                      1. re: Sharuf

                        Very ... for cellulose digesting micro-organisms.

                        1. re: Sharuf

                          Don't take this as carte blanche on safety but there is this excerpt:

                          "Ingestion of inks used on newsprint has not been an issue because the ingredients used in the inks are not considered toxic in either the liquid or dry state."
                          From an article on the use of newsprint as bedding on dairy farms.

                          1. re: Cinnamon

                            I would be careful with this, not so much because of the ink but because newsprint is made from recycled materials and you don't really know where the material came from. The material isn't cleaned to FDA standards because it's not intended for food uses.

                            1. re: jboeke

                              Jamie Oliver's salmon was wrapped with a lot of greens and then with the newsprint and the whole thing done on the grill.

                              1. re: jboeke

                                i would NOT use newsprint for cooking. those inks are not determined to be food safe substances -- nor are they recognized by FDA as "generally recognized as safe" -- aka "GRAS".

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Newsprint is fine, at least in the not burning not direct contact use Sam describes.
                                  If the ink was toxic, the people who work at printing companies and inhale those fumes all day would be dropping like flies. People who use crumpled up newspaper to get a fire going would also be in trouble. So would people who eat fish and chips that is bundled in newspaper (or any of the other fried foods this is done with). And so would the college students who use newspapers when they run out of rolling papers. Butchers in the early 20th century often used old newspaper instead of butcher paper, and that was when inks were nearly always petroleum based, not soy based as they often are now.
                                  It might not be the best thing in the world, but I'd be willing to bet you'll find more harm in a bag of Doritos.

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      Does this include the comic section with all those reds, greens and blues, lol

                                    2. re: danieljdwyer

                                      DJ, I suspect you are partly wrong on this. While there may be little risk if it doesn't burn, many colorants are organic and metal based. These can produce harmful gasses when burned. We used to add magazine pages to our raku firings to add unique chemical/gas coloring effects to the glaze as they burned.
                                      Volume printers are probably required to have good ventilation where the ink is used. Most inks have some kind of volatile, fast drying carrier, or solvent. If I open a very freshly printed newspaper it can cause me to have asthma-like symptoms.

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        It's very possible that I'm completely off base here. I would imagine though, that with both contact between food and newspaper and burning of newspaper being far from uncommon, that in our tragedy loving, overly cautious culture, if this was dangerous, I'd either have heard about someone dying from it or been warned against it at some point. Instead, I'm instructed by different sources to ball up newspapers under kindling to get a fire going, or wrap fish in newspaper and then grill it.
                                        I guess it doesn't matter to me either way; I'm about as likely to have a printed newspaper lying around as I am to have an 8 track player lying around.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          scargod, i notice i start sneezing with colored newspaper pages, esp. like pages with lots of photos.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            You just have photophobia. This often occurs when looking at a lot of poor quality images on newsprint or pictures published on Chowhound.

                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              scargod, maybe it is "photollergy".

                                  1. re: Cinnamon

                                    Here's more on soy ink with caveats. Personally, I'm not going to worry if something is wrapped in greens first, and if I'm handed fish and chips in newspaper I'm not going to worry, but would avoid any chips that had black on them or that I could actually read with a mirror.

                            2. I ended up just wrapping it in parchment paper because I had some in the house. I didn't see Lotus leaves or Banana leaves at Whole Foods (my fiance swears he saw Banana leaves there, but he doesn't remember where).

                              I have some corn I'm about to eat though, so I may try the corn husks next time.

                              I really like the herb smothering idea too, that sounds really yummy. I'm trying to experiment with Salmon and these are a lot of great ideas.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: zeprosnepsid

                                Here in New Jersey, banana leaves are generally found in the frozen foods sections in many ethnic markets.

                                1. re: zeprosnepsid

                                  I usually find bannana leaves at my local asian or hispanic market. Usually I find them frozen and they work just fine.

                                  I also topped my salmon in a cream cheese and chives and then wrapped it in a puff pastry sheet.

                                2. I use parchment, not sure if that qualifies. Use banana leaves for a beach BBQ or open pit., grape leaves someone mentioned but I don't like the taste as much. The parchment is no flavor and I stuff with a pasta or spinach base, lots of veggies, wine, anything. It is great to cook fish in. I do it all the times for my seafood.

                                  In parchment don't be afraid to put a base of rice, pasta, spinach, top with an assortment of veggies and or fruit, wine, butter, etc. It is very accommodating and easy to cook with. Just put on a cookie sheet and cook 400 or 425 until puffed about 15-25 minutes depending on how much in the pouch. Perfect, moist, no clean up, cute presentation on each plate. I make my fish that way at least once every couple of weeks or more.

                                  I saw someone wrap the salmon in seaweed once. Not for me, but looked interesting.

                                  The parchment btw can be used to wrap a stuffed chicken breast, shrimp, scallops anything. Spinach, fresh tomatoes, olives, scallops, lemon, mushrooms over a bed of couscous with white wine in a pouch is great. No fuss or pots and done in 20 minutes. Perfection!!

                                  1. Can someone Alton Brown this briefly for me - what do the various choices do for flavor or for humidity? I've cooked on a banana leaf, which was a useful undergirdment for dumplings while steaming. I would think the other kinds of leaves would do similar but do they add much flavor or aroma? I've had terrific fish en papillote but am not clear on what that did for the fish - did it just hold in moisture the way that any other method of steaming the fish would, with the flavorings around it held in?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Cinnamon

                                      Banana or Ti leaves don't impart much in the way of flavor; here in South FL we use them green - just pick them from the backyard <grin> Corn husks will impart some flavor whether dried or green.

                                      1. re: KiltedCook

                                        My Banana tree gave me more than I could ever use. I miss that tree, but I do have a tree on the complex and they said help yourself. They work better for more open pit baking, but no not much flavor. I tend to use a lot of seasoning and some onion for flavor. I just prefer parchment but no flavor I know and not natural but so much easier for me.

                                        1. re: KiltedCook

                                          I do that out in SoCal too with the banana leaves... although... the trees seemed happier when I live in S. Fla. :) (Humidity, real soil, etc.)

                                      2. Corn Husks, Banana Leaves, Hoja Santa Leaves are all extremely common & successful ways to wrap fish for steam baking in Mexico.

                                        Less common, and only came to my attention yesterday (thanks to a report from the prolific RST)... Tropical Almond leaves used as a wrapper for Tamales et al.,

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          Ditto the corn husks. I've only cooked catfish in them, but it was good. I remember a recipe for salmon wrapped in rice paper (like for spring rolls), but I never tried it. I think it was in an old Fine Cooking, but I'm not sure.

                                          1. re: corneygirl

                                            If you can get it... definitely try the Hoja Santa (Piper Auritam)... sublime.

                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              Hey, everyone...with corn so plentiful in the stores right now, we've been making plenty of dishes with it and now I feel like I've lost an opportunity to have saved those husks to use for fish at another time...here's my question: how do you husk the corn one day, then use the husks for fish a different day? How to "preserve" them for another day, I guess, is my question! Could I just put husks in a bag and refrigerate for a few days? Thanks!

                                              1. re: Val

                                                Actually, they're better dried. Let them dry. Re-hydrate in some hot water at use.

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Hi, Sam: "let them dry" as in on the kitchen counter? Sorry to be so dense!

                                                  1. re: Val

                                                    Not at all. I think that part of using dried corn husks is their unique flavor. I have plenty of banana leaves here for fish or meat or tamales, but I bring back dried husks from Mexico and the US for tamales. My guess is just leave them out in the sun for a few days or dry them in a very low oven. Either that or just use them green - you can't go wrong. If you have them anyway, don't waste em!

                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                      Sam, you ARE a wonder on this board!!!! Thanks!!! Our local grocery stores are practically giving away corn right now so I'm being an opportunist!

                                                      1. re: Val

                                                        Completely seperate but I use the corn husks to wrap around cubanellos stuffed with a chorizzo, bread crumbs, veggie and cheese filling. A simple husk makes a great steaming affect and really gives the peppers a nice texture, even though I equally like them on the grill as well too. Both separate flavors. But I should use banana leaves, we definitely have more than I could ever use.

                                                    2. re: Val

                                                      What, no clothesline/clothespins?

                                                2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                  Not native to my area, but I will look at the Mexican Grocery next time, thanks!

                                                  1. re: corneygirl

                                                    FYI... it has been reported as an invasive in the plain states (although I would guess Iowa is too cold) in Texas its referred to as Root Beer plant if that helps.

                                                    The flavor is awesome... kind of like what I imagine the freshest, most pungent Fennel... but with the added benefit of being easy as a wrapper or other cooking vehicle (its also known to be a good egg poacher, and for Veracruz style tamales, and whole wrapped fish particularly Pompano).

                                            2. An very unusual way to cook fish is to make a thick 'merangue' with eggwhites and salt. You form a thick salt platform, take a fish, stuff with aromatics,drizzle a bit of wine and oil and wrap gently in parchment paper and place on the salt block. Then mold another bit of salt onto this so you have a brick of salt with the fish inside. Bake for a bit (25/30 min) 325 and chip away at the salt to get at the fish. This is called Shiogama. Have fun!

                                              1. Probably too late but have you thought of salt, yup salt. A fish encrusted with salt and baked is outstanding.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  Absolutely the best way to bake fish.
                                                  I have an old recipe that explains the salt technique, and then explains a variation using coarse sugar and grilling the fish. The recipe explains that the fish does not absorb any of the sugar; instead, the sugar caramelizes to form a hard shell around the fish. The shell is then cracked off when the fish is done, and the result is supposed to be even more moist than with the salt baked method. I've never tried it, and never seen it mentioned anywhere else.

                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    haha that's what I was thinking too!

                                                  2. Did anyone mention Swiss Chard?

                                                    1. I'm always looking for unusual or popular cookbooks. I found what I thought to be, the coolest cb. It's called Under Wraps. In it are different sections for different wrappings and they go from natural to manmade. Not to long ago I watched the Top Chef program where the contestants were at La Cirque, and the challenge was to cook a lovely piece of fish wrapped in the thinnest slices of potato. I was enthralled! Not only did it look cool, it just sounded as though it would be delicious.

                                                      But back to the book. Here are some ideas to wrap a piece of fish;
                                                      Spinach or bok choy, swiss chard, cabbage a romaine leaf, with mint and basil leaves (steam it or braise)
                                                      Thin potato slices, or even thinly sliced butternut squash braised first in chicken broth, then sauteed.
                                                      For the potato, slather a dijon mustard on the fish, and for the squash a ginge,garlic cilantro smooth. Then wrap with the potato or butternut squash.

                                                      1. Romaine leaves. A standard prep in my house is dill sprigs and lemon slices on salmon, wrapped in Romaine leave in a fish grilling basket, on the Weber.

                                                        1. The outer layers of cabbage

                                                          The outer layer of napa cabbage

                                                          Bamboo leaves

                                                          Corn husks

                                                          1. No one seems to have mentioned grape or fig leaves. I "grow" both. Any thoughts?

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              Grape leaves, obviously yes. Fig leaves, no.

                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                I feel obliged to try a pun here, but have nothing in mind.

                                                                1. re: Cinnamon

                                                                  Me either. At least I would not want them baked in either.

                                                            2. Salmon made me think of the amuse-bouche we had recently, where they wrapped the salmon bite in wilted romaine.
                                                              I make a wonderful French dish where you use romaine as a bed for cooking pork, boiler onions and dill.
                                                              Even though romaine leaves can be large, you could still layer and overlap them. I would think toothpicks would hold it together or get something like I have; a wire clampy thing that holds fish, for the grill or campfire.

                                                              1. I see a lot of people have talked about using parchment as a "natural" substitute for foil. I love using parchment, as it has some great advantages. Parchment is a type of paper embedded with silicone to create the non-stickness. I'm not sure that its any more natural or better for the environment than other things like foil. All the leaf and greens suggestions posted seem great. i'm looking forward to trying them.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: julseydesign

                                                                  Agreed, I love parchment cuz it is easy and I can additional ingredients as in wine, other veggies, etc.

                                                                  I have used banana leaves and even cabbage but I never got any good results, or I should say better than with parchment. And I couldn't add the wine or other flavors which I liked. But the banana on the open pit fire was great. That with some seaweed on top made a great bake, but that is all different that just grilling or baking.

                                                                  1. re: julseydesign

                                                                    It seems, it's not always silicone coated: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1070.... Having had mixed results with expensive silicone mats, I am interested in silicone-coated parchment paper!

                                                                  2. I made a recipe from Cooking Light not too long ago that was hallibut wrapped in thinly sliced zucchini. You lay a few basil leaves on the fish, salt & pepper, then roll it up in barely overlapping layers of zucchini. Sear it in a little olive oil seam-side down to seal the packet, then bake in the oven. The fish was incredibly moist and looked beautiful.

                                                                    1. Arugula, leeks, collard greens

                                                                      1. Corn husks make a great wrap. They are sold dried in the produce aisle to use for tamale making, and you can lay a few overlapping with each other unless you need a large wrap that is really airtight.

                                                                        1. Thinly sliced proscuitto makes a nice wrap - I like how it lets you pile up a couple of scrap pieces or fold a thin edge up onto itself, then wrap with seam down, so it looks nice and all portions are close to uniform. Depending on the size/type of fish and oven heat, the proscuitto may or may not get crispy, but it's nice either way.

                                                                          1. If you have white fleshed fillets sometime, brush the inside of a banana leaf with oil, sprinkle with chopped garlic, red & green chilies, maybe lemon grass, and fold it all up in a flat packet. You can quickly grill or even fry it in a dry pan. If you get the heat right the fish and garlic will crisp and steam at the same time. The leaves also cook and scent the fish. Cut the packet open at the table to serve this very aromatic dish. I had it in a Singapore street stall but you can get frozen banana leaves in asian markets.

                                                                            1. Anyone ever hear of these natural veggie wraps. NOT like bread. They are a product of lots of different greens and vegetables all pressed together to form this flat sheets like phyllo bread. But they are bright green, and apparently all types of greens, seaweed, kale, spinach, but also includes other vegetables.

                                                                              I never heard of it. A friend told me he had them and they were great. Apparently you can eat them, but also great for baking. I looked for them but haven't found them.

                                                                              Just curious if anyone has seen them. They sound really interesting.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                k, those veggie wraps sound really neat! i'd love to try them. can you get more info from your friend, maybe?

                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  I already asked. He was in Orlando with a friend visiting and they stopped by a couple of stores while driving around and picked up some stuff to make dinner. He said it was a small store, health foods. He doesn't remember, but I haven't given up. I would love to try them too. He said they were great.

                                                                                  They made a seafood salad and rolled them and then he said they baked them, but never told me what they baked. They sound great.

                                                                                  I am still searching and will definitely let you know

                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                    Chamberlin's is a big name in health food there - there's one in the area called Winter Park, have been others.

                                                                              2. At the farmers' market today, I picked up massive bunch of green garlic-I'm going to blanch the tops and wrap it around a whole trout (stuffed with lemon and thyme) to grill....

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                  Nice dish. I don't like tarter or remoulade very often, but I would love a good fresh remoulade with it. Now and then I do like some sauce. But should be great flavor on it's own.

                                                                                  My best friend is fishing in Canada for salmon and expecting a fedex anyday. Fresh from the stream and the next night on my plate. I looking forward to fixing a few ways. Very fresh and supposedly 2-3 whole fish. I may wrap one and smoke it slow or grill it. Lots of options.

                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                    I've been able to harvest some of our French tarragon and guess what I make with it? We eat it on lots of things. When we have remoulade, it's like our ketchup for steamed or raw veggies (and fish). I do fairly classic French remoulade with capers and sometimes I sneak in anchovy paste.

                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                      That is the best. It is such a great sauce. I usually don't do a lot of sauce with fish, but I love a good remoulade. Nothing wrong with anchovies

                                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                                        scargod, have you tried john folse's red remoulade on your fish or shrimp? http://www.jfolse.com/recipes/stocks_...

                                                                                        while we're at it, here is his traditional white remoulade recipe, too: http://www.jfolse.com/recipes/stocks_...

                                                                                        for john folse fans, and for fans of different sauces, take a gander at this cornucopia of goodness: http://www.jfolse.com/fr_stocks.htm

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          My favorite remoulade:

                                                                                          1/4 cup each ... dijon, horsy sauce and ketchup; 1 teaspoon dried mustard; 1/4 celery fine chopped; 1/8 cup scallions also fine chopped; 3 tablespoons fresh parsley; 1 small shallot grated; 1 teaspoon minced garlic; 1/2 lemon juiced; 2 tablespoons white vinegar; 1 tablespoon paprika; pinch of cayenne; 1 whole egg; 3/4 cup canola oil, and s/p. I like to wisk the egg and oil first with the mustard and then slowly add everything else in. A great thick sauce. You can also put everything in the blender of food processor to make it even creamier. Rather than the egg you can also add mayo, but I love to make it fresh. I don't make it that often so when I do I like this version.

                                                                                  2. Can we ask what "natural" is?
                                                                                    Did you mean 'edible"?

                                                                                    I was approaching this from the state ~I~ would have been in -- the dish 1/2 prepared only to discover that I had no foil or leaves...

                                                                                    So, I was thinking, if I were in desperation state, what would I sue that was In The House NOW:
                                                                                    tea bags with the tea removed
                                                                                    tea bags, with tea
                                                                                    muffin tin liners
                                                                                    coffee maker filters
                                                                                    100% cotton T-Shirt,
                                                                                    muslin kitchen towels,
                                                                                    that beautiful unbleached bag my rice came in that I saved [also probably muslin]
                                                                                    butcher paper off something in the freezer
                                                                                    won-ton wrappers
                                                                                    flour tortillas

                                                                                    I'd also open containers and examine the lining -- the wax paper bag from some cereals? A Dorito's/chip bag [foil type, not so natural]? Take-out paper cups seems to be lightly wax lined.

                                                                                    a LOT of:
                                                                                    dry cornmeal
                                                                                    dry grits
                                                                                    dry rice
                                                                                    dry beans?

                                                                                    I asked my daughter for ideas -- her suggestions was Bacon!

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                      Tortillas, bacon, salt, cornmeal with egg and milk, grits sounds interesting, ground sunflower seed paste, flour paste, rice paste, coarse, country style mustard.

                                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                        kris, since your daughter is a baconarian, she already has a lot of colleagues here on chowhound!

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          Did you just make that up?
                                                                                          "I'm an baconarian, sectarian, sexagenarian Chowhound. How about you?"

                                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                                            that's why you're such a chick magnet!
                                                                                            and no, i didn't make that baconarian name up - but i LIKE it!

                                                                                      2. I am interested to read all these suggestions using vegetables to wrap fish in and bake. I would use bok choy, since I love it so much. But I am wondering if it should be baked covered or open, knowing that one would wish to eat the bok choy as well? Those of you who are experienced,does it dry out too much if baked uncovered? Thanks for your help!