Cooking Fish in Parchment: A Beginner’s Guide

Welcome to the world of cooking fish in parchment, or as the French chefs call it, “en papillote.” This might sound fancy or look daunting, but it’s actually a super simple way to cook fish. You wrap the fish in parchment paper with some tasty extras and bake it. This method is great because it locks in flavor and keeps the fish nice and moist. 

If you’re cooking at home and want to try something new and easy, this guide is perfect for you. We’ll walk you through the steps and share some handy tips to make your fish dish a hit. 

Why Cook Fish in Parchment? 
It’s healthy and tasty. This way of cooking uses little to no extra fat, but you still get a flavorful, juicy fish. 

You can mix it up, using all sorts of fish and different seasonings, veggies, and herbs. 

Cleanup is a breeze. Since everything cooks in the parchment, there’s hardly any mess to deal with afterward. 

Choosing Your Fish 
Go for fresh, firm fish like salmon, cod, halibut, or snapper. Thicker pieces are better because they don’t cook as fast and are less likely to overcook. When possible, think sustainably; Try to pick fish that’s sourced in a way that’s good for the environment. 

Getting Ready to Cook 
Heat the Oven. Start by turning your oven on to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). A steady temperature is key for even cooking. 

Parchment Paper Prep: Cut a big piece of parchment paper into a heart shape. This shape helps to seal in all the yummy flavors and juices. 

Season Your Fish. Dry the fish with paper towels and season both sides with salt, pepper, and anything else you like. Garlic powder, paprika, or dill are all great choices. 

Adding Flavor and Moisture 
Aromatics: Lay down some thinly sliced lemons, dill, parsley, or thyme on one side of your parchment heart. This gives the fish lots of flavor as it cooks. 

Veggies: Add some thin slices of veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes. Now you’ve got a full meal in one pouch! 

A Little Liquid: Pour a little white wine, lemon juice, or olive oil over everything (generally, 1-2 Tablespoons per serving). This adds even more flavor and keeps the fish moist. 

Putting It All Together 
Place the fish on top of the aromatics and veggies on one side of the parchment heart. Fold the other half of the parchment over the fish. Start at the top of the heart and make small folds along the edge until you reach the tip. Give the tip a twist to seal your little parcel. 

Make sure there’s some space inside the pouch for steam to build up. This steam is what cooks the fish. 

Time to Cook 
Place your parchment pouches on a baking sheet and bake them for about 10-15 minutes. The exact time depends on how thick your fish is. You’ll know it’s done when the pouch puffs up. To ensure doneness, open one pouch carefully to see if the fish is cooked. It should look opaque and flake apart easily with a fork. 

Serving Your Dish
You can serve the fish right in its parchment pouch. It looks elegant and gives your guests a fun surprise when they open it. 

If you prefer, you can carefully transfer the fish and its accompaniments onto plates. Watch out for the hot steam and juices! 

Bonus Tips
– Make It Personal

If you’re cooking for a few people, you can customize each pouch with different veggies and seasonings. 
– Try New Things

Don’t be afraid to experiment with various herbs, spices, and citrus types.
– Prepare Ahead
You can put together the pouches a few hours before and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
– Great for Learning

Making these pouches is a fun and easy way to get kids or cooking beginners involved in the kitchen.

Cooking fish in parchment is more than just a cooking method, it’s a fun, easy, and healthy way to make a really impressive meal. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or guests, this method is sure to impress with its simplicity and delicious results. So next time you’re thinking of cooking, consider the parchment paper route for a meal that is as delightful to prepare as it is to present and eat. Happy cooking!