En papillote is a French term and a cooking method that means “in paper.” Today we are cooking our ingredients inside paper, not just any paper, but parchment paper that is designed for food and can withstand high temperatures. We are creating a tightly sealed paper parcel where the salmon will cook by steam.
Steam is a versatile moist cooking method where liquid is vapourized into steam. The steam carries heat to the food and cooks the food. Steaming food preserves many of the nutrients and seals in the flavours.
Be sure to use BC Ocean Wise salmon to ensure that the salmon was sustainably caught.
Yield: 4 small servings
Preparation Time: About 20 minutes
Cooking Time: About 10 minutes (longer for larger pieces of fish)
- 1 leek, very thinly sliced, white
- 2 Tbsp. torn flat leafed parsley
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- about 3 tsp. butter
- 4 – 100 g portions (about 4 oz.) of skinless, boneless wild salmon
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 3 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. herbes de Provence, or 2
- Tbsp. fresh herbs, such as basil,
marjoram, and thyme
- cutting board
- small sharp knife
- fish tweezers
- measuring spoons
- dinner knife, to cut butter
- 3 pieces parchment paper (about 30 x 30 cm)
- baking sheet
- citrus juicer or reamer
- 3 small bowls
- Preheat the oven to 425 F with the oven rack in the middle.
- Rub a little butter on center of each parchment paper, leaving a three- finger width border.
- Rinse the salmon under cold water and pat dry on a paper towel. Run your finger over the fillets to see if all the pin bones are removed. If not, remove them with fish tweezers. Put aside for now.
- Cut the hairy end off of the leek and remove the green portion. Cut the white leek in 1/2, lengthwise and rinse under cold water to remove any dirt. Pat dry. Place the leek halves on the cutting board and cut across the width into very thin strips. Place in a small bowl.
- Grate the garlic on a microplane and add to the leek.
- Remove the leaves from the parsley and chop or tear into small pieces.
Add to the leek mixture. Toss the mixture together.
- Zest the lemon, then juice it and put aside for now in small bowls.
- Place ½ of the leek mixture in the centre of each piece of parchment.
- Place the salmon fillets on top of the leek mixture. Season with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle with herbs de Provence and lemon zest.
- Sprinkle the other half of the leek mixture over top. Add a drizzle of lemon juice and dot with the remaining butter.
- Fold the parchment over the fish and seal the edges by pleating. To pleat the parchment, start at one corner and fold the edges over and press them. Fold the next pleat, catching the edge of the first pleat so the pleats slightly overlap each other. Work your way around the parchment until you have a tightly sealed packet. Slide the packets on a baking sheet.
- Place in the oven to steam the fish for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let rest for two minutes.
- Slide the packet onto plates and serve. With scissors, cut the parchment but take care when opening as hot steam may rush out. Peel back the parchment paper and enjoy the aroma and flavour.
- There are many possibilities with ‘en papillote’ cooking. Try different vegetables with the fish, such as celery, carrots, tomatoes, or mushrooms. Just be sure the vegetables are cut very small so they cook in the short cooking time. Try different herbs and spices: chopped fresh ginger, thyme, basil, or tarragon. Try olive oil instead of butter. Try orange zest and juice instead of lemon. Try different fish, such as snapper, ling cod or bass. Experiment and discover your favourite combination.
STEP-BY-STEP – SALMON EN PAMPILLOTE!
Rub a little butter on the center of each parchment paper, leaving a three-finger width border. Also, ask an adult to preheat the oven to 425 F for you.
Gather all of your ingredients. Rinse the salmon under cold water and pat dry on a paper towel. Run your fingers over the fillets to make sure all the pin bones are removed. If you find some, remove them using fish tweezers or needle-nosed pliers.
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