The first stop on this trip after tossing our bags in the back of my brother’s truck was a stop at the market. When I travel I really enjoy trying all of the local specialties – and this being a tropical island fresh fish is abundant. This technique for preparing fish – it was called en papillote – in parchment paper – is a traditional cooking style originated by the French, but England was the first to patent and mass produce this nifty little product (also called baking paper) a very long time ago. It seems that parchment paper is enjoying a resurgence, so I dug out a favorite recipe copied on a trip to St. Maartin in the 80’s and reworked it hawai’ian style.
2 nice sized fresh fish filets
2 cups julienned root vegetables
salt, pepper and fresh herbs to taste
The secret to a great little steamed package is the prep work – super easy once you get the hang of it. Use one approximately 14 by 14 sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half. Then cut out a big heart – pretend you are making a big valentine heart – like this:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open your cute paper heart and place fish filet on one side – I used maui mahi because that’s what looked freshest at the market that day- and add the julienned root vegetables , one cup onto each piece of fish (I used celery, carrots, onions and orange beets – but any fresh veggies will do in a pinch.) Season with salt and pepper to taste, squeeze a little lemon juice on top, then cover with two lemon slices. If the veggies are dry its a good idea to add one teaspoon of butter on top for some moisture and added flavor (this is such a low fat recipe that a little butter won’t hurt) and top with your favorite fresh herbs. The parchment packets allow the fish and vegetables to cook in their own juices and thus maintain the flavor of each ingredient.
Then cover with other side of paper and make small, tight, overlapping folds all around the outside edges to close packet. Twist tail end to seal. This is really important because a tight seal is necessary to properly steam the packet.
Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet and cook 15-20 minutes or until parchment is puffy. Place on individual plates, cut open carefully and serve immediately. The best part is the cleanup – there is none…..just toss the packets and you are done!