I can’t recall when or where the first time I had fish en papillote was. But, it’s a dish that stuck out in my mind because of its presentation and ingenuity. It’s not only a healthy way to cook your fish, since the fish steams inside the parchment paper, but it’s also super fancayyy! It’s the type of thing you’d want to serve your guests, if you were having a dinner party! There’s just something so adorable about receiving your own little parcel on a plate, and then opening it up to a surprise of perfectly steamed fish! It’s also an interactive element for your guests, which is always fun.
Turns out, fish en papillote is incredibly easy to make at home, and it’s pretty low maintenance too. It involves little prep at the beginning, and once the fish en papillote is in the oven, you don’t need to flip the fish or do anything else. The sky is the limit in terms of the type of fish you decide on, what flavours you choose, or what vegetables you want to put inside the pouches. You could go very traditional with lemon, dill, butter, salt and pepper, or get a little more imaginative with your flavours. I decided to use fennel and orange for my version of fish en papillote because fennel and orange pair well together, and adding the fennel right into the parcels allowed me to bake my side dish along with the fish, for a complete meal.
The hardest part about making fish en papillote at home is getting the technique right. Not gonna lie, the first time I attempted to do this at home, I just cut the parchment paper in regular squares and then tried to wrap the packets up – awkwardly folding the parchment on all sides. It still worked out, but the fish en papillote looked nothing like what I’d had in restaurants! I later googled the correct technique and it was a world of difference. So, I’ve decided to share the correct technique with you in the video I made for this recipe below!
Here is the recipe:
Fish en Papillote with Fennel and Orange
- 4 fillets fresh cod fish aim for about 1/2 pound per person of fish
- 1/2 orange cut into round slices
- 1 medium fennel cut into half moon slices and retaining the fennel fronds
- 8 tsp. capers
- 4 tsp. butter at room temperature
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea or kosher salt
- black pepper
- parchment paper cut into 4 sheets measuring 18-20 inches
- To prepare the parchment paper, group all 4 sheets and fold directly in half. Stencil (if you wish) a half heart shape or semi-circle shape on one side and then proceed to cut. When you unfold the parchment paper, you should have a heart or circular shape.
- To prepare your fennel, after you've washed the fennel, remove the stalks from the top of the bulb. Cut the fennel fronds from the stalks. Keep the fennel fronds, as they're going to be used to garnish the fish. Discard the stalks. Starting lengthwise from the centre of the fennel, cut in half and then cut the fennel into half moon slices.
- On each sheet of parchment paper, add a handful of cut fennel to the left side of the fold. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
- Place fish fillet on top of the fennel. Season with salt and black pepper. Add 1-2 tsp. of capers on top and 1 tsp. of butter.
- Add a couple slices of orange on top of the fish and garnish with some of the fennel fronds.
- To seal the parcels, fold the other side of the parchment paper over. Starting from the bottom, make small folds every 1/2 inch to 1 inch all the way around until completely sealed. Make sure to tuck in any loose ends, as you don't want the air to escape when steaming in the oven.
- Place on baking tray and repeat for the other 3 cod fillets.
- Add baking tray to oven pre-heated to 400 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, all of the parcels should be puffed up. Do not open your oven while the fish is steaming, otherwise the parcels will deflate.
- When finished cooking, remove from oven and set aside for about 5 minutes. Cut open the fish en papillote, serve and enjoy!