I think that French cuisine is the most elegant, from the preparation to presentation. The French method of cooking en papillote or in a paper bag, is wonderful for preserving natural flavours and retaining moisture. Food prepared en papillote also makes for a dramatic presentation. If you care about this sort of thing, it is also quite healthful: the only cooking fat in this recipe is butter, and that is only a minimal amount for greasing the ‘bag’. I find Poisson en Papillote or Fish in Parchment a romantic meal, from the use of heart-shaped parchment paper during the prep, to the wrapping of the individual portions like billets-doux and delivering them to my sweetheart at the table.
On Friday, we bought some Ling, a steak-y fish similiar to cod, from the Fish Deli in Ashburton. The shop is family owned and sells mostly line-caught, sustainable fish sourced from the South Devon and Corwall coasts.
Poisson en Papillote pour deux
- 400 gm fish fillets
- 1 carrot, trimmed, peeled & cut into julienne strips
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded & cut into julienne strips
- 100 gm haricot vert, trimmed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit/200° Celsius.
Cut the fish fillets into 2 pieces. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the carrots, pepper and haricot vert for two minutes. Immediately drain the vegetables. Refresh under cold running water and pat dry.
Using parchment paper, cut out two heart shapes, each measuring about 12 inches long through the center. Butter one side of the heart, then place a piece of the fillet in the center of each buttered side. Surround each fillet with half of the vegetables and sprinkle with salt, pepper and lots of love.
Fold the unbuttered side of the heart over each fillet. Beginning with the top rounded edge of each heart, fold and crimp the sides of the hearts together to seal the packets. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
Transfer the packets to serving plates and with scissors cut a cross in the top of each one. Fold back the edges and serve immediately with French bead and a good Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre.