Asian Halibut en Papillote
Learn the technique and make this dish your own with any flavor profile!
Cooking fish in parchment paper is a classic French technique that is naturally low-fat and high-flavor, gluten-free before it was en vogue. Set atop a base of vegetables and flavored with aromatics, the fish steams inside the paper, absorbing all the flavors and retaining its moisture. This method of cooking is ideal for "just one" or "dinner for two." Making papillote for several people, however, can be time consuming if you don't yet have the hang of it. Remember: it is about technique, not torture! Follow the instructions and watch the video. You can do this!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; measuring spoons; parchment paper; two pastry brushes; small bowl; rimmed sheet pan; offset spatula
1, 6-oz halibut filet 1/4 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
8 sugar snaps, julienne 1/4 orange bell pepper, julienne
salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon fresh lemongrass, chopped* 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, julienne*
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil 2 teaspoons mirin 1 egg white, lightly beaten vegetable oil for brushing the parchment 1 scallion, thinly sliced on bias
1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Fold a large piece of parchment in half. Starting at the fold, draw half a large heart shape. Cut along the lines and open. Place the cabbage in the center of the paper against the crease. Top the cabbage with the snap peas and pepper, then place the halibut filet on top (see video below). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top the fish with lemongrass and ginger. Drizzle the fish with the soy, sesame oil, and mirin.
Get Right to the Core
Cabbage has a woody, tough core. Before you begin shredding or cutting the cabbage, split it down the middle, stand it upon its base, and slice a triangle around the core. Remove the cut chunk from the base and discard. This will make it much easier to work with the cabbage.
2. Now seal the parchment paper. Brush the edge of the bottom on the parchment with egg white. Fold the top of the parchment onto the bottom and press to seal. Brush more egg white along the edge of the top fold of parchment paper. Now make small folds and pleats along the seam to make a closed pocket. Once finished, add more egg white and repeat with another round of pleats (see video below).
3. Once you have completed two rounds of folds, it is time to place the parchment package on the sheet pan. Carefully lift the package and place it gently on the pan. Brush the top of the parchment lightly with oil.
“Ideally, you'll want to have two pastry brushes: one for egg whites and one for oil. If you only have one pastry brush, that's ok. Just remember to wash it thoroughly and dry it before going from egg whites to oil.”
4. Place the sheet pan in the oven on the middle rack for 8 minutes, until the parchment pouch has both puffed up and turned a light golden brown.
“Once the fish is ready to leave the oven, beware that it might "deflate" a bit once the hot parchment pouch hits the cold air of the kitchen. This is not a problem. It's just physics!”
5. Carefully lift the parchment off the sheet pan using an offset spatula, both to protect the pouch and your hands! Using a pair of scissors, cut a small vent in the center of the top of the parchment pouch. Make the tear bigger to expose the fish and vegetables. Be careful not to let the steam burn your hands.
6. Sprinkle the fish with sliced scallions and serve immediately.
Makes 1 serving.