Baked Fish in Parchment Paper Recipes and Seafood Parcels
The flavors and aroma of fish and seafood is so delicate and fragile that it is a crime to deep fry it and even baking and grilling is an overkill causing over cooking. Steaming works but many of the delicate aromas and flavors get whisked away in the steam. Making aluminum chambers and cooking in the oven can leave a metallic taint.
The simple solution is to use baking parchment sheets and to wrap fish and seafood into parcels. This steams the fish gently and the parcel itself has a neutral taste and absorbs some of the flavors and aromas of the fish. Nothing is lost.
You can add a variety of herbs and vegetables is complement the natural flavors of the seafood, but don't overdo it. Use about 1/2 to 1/4 of what you think you need. The obvious choices are garlic, ginger, spring onions, coriander, mint, chilli and lime. A few drops of soy sauce adds a little saltiness to the taste.
The crucial ingredient is the fish and seafood. It must be fresh and the very best quality.
Making parcels means there is no waste. Opening the parcels on the plate means that the diner experiences the joys of discovering what's inside and the delightful aromas that rise as the parcels are opened.
Ingredients for Seafood in Parchment Parcels
Note: The real art of making this dish a success is to match the herbs, spices and vegetables to the fish species or seafood.
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced zucchini
3 slices of fresh ginger
8 oz (250 g) sea scallops
4 small sprigs fresh thyme
1 red onion, finely sliced
4 thin lemon or lime slices
4 tablespoons dry white wine
1 small green onion finely diced
4 small sprigs fresh oregano, marjoram
1 cup finely sliced and diced red, or yellow bell pepper
8 sheets of parchment paper (16 in x 12-in ; 40 cm x 25 cm)
8 oz (250 g) large green shrimp, peeled, vein removed, with tails off
[Or use 16 oz (500g) of thin fish fillets, or larger fillets sliced into bite size pieces]
Preparation of Seafood in Parchment Parcels
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Use two thicknesses of parchment paper to make 4 parcels. Fold the paper in half, make a crease and then open up. Start assembling the ingredients by arranging the seafood and vegetables in the center of each parcel. Leave plenty of free space around the food items so that all sides can be gathered to make a parcel. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle the onions and herbs on top and add one or two slices of lime or lemon. Drizzle a small amount of white wine over the ingredients and finish with a teaspoon of butter.
Gather and fold the parcel to bring all the edges together and tie with some kitchen string. To may find that simply twisting the edges together provides enough of a seal, but the string is safer. You want the seal to be tight so the parcel puffs up with the steam but not so tight that it 'pops'.
Place parchment parcels on a baking tray over a pan and bake for only about 15 minutes, until the parcels inflate. Don't overcook. To serve, prick each parcel with a knife to prevent hot steam hitting the diner in the face. But leave the parcels sealed so that the diner can discover what's inside and enjoy the aroma when the parcel is opened.
© 2013 Dr. John Anderson
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