Cooking “en papillote” has been a fancy way to steam vegetables and light meats and fish for decades. Even back thousands of years folks were wrapping their fish and veggies in banana leaves and steaming them over hot coals. It’s great fun to open the paper or leaves for that big reveal. There is such a waft of good food smells when you crack open the package and everything inside is so sumptuous and tender from this gentle yet efficient means of steam heating. I had never tried this before but found this to be way more fun than regular steaming.
In this version of cooking I used:
- 1 tbsp butter per package
- 1/3 cup chopped onion per package
- 1/2 a small squash or zucchini cut in thin strips per package
- 2 small frozen salmon fillets per package
- Seasonings per package (a pinch of paprika, 1 smashed garlic clove, salt and pepper to taste)
- 2 10″x 10″ parchment paper sheets.
To assemble, put the onions all around the bottom of one half of parchment, then place the squash strips on top of them making little support beams for the fish. Place the two fillets of salmon on the squash, place the butter on top of everything, season well then seal the parchment sheets together by twist folding every half inch of the perimeter of the parchment until it is completely sealed all around.
You could cook this in the oven but I put mine on the grill on foil with offset heat sources at either end but not directly under the parchment packs. after 20 minutes I did move the packets under more direct flame for about 6 minutes until I started to smell the onions cooking. I shut off the fire once the packs appeared to be inflated by the steam inside. They stayed that way until I served them at the table. I wouldn’t want to serve them until the risk of super-heated steam was gone. About a ten minute rest period took care of that
Opening your own ballooned pack of fish and vegetables is like opening a birthday present! That puff of steam really enhances the experience when it all comes out at once to your nose. The onions on the bottom made a caramelized base for every thing else to rest upon, The squash was still slightly crispy but glazed in the melted onion. The salmon was tender and flaky, spiced just right and done to perfection throughout. All of the flavors really infused well with one another and the juices that precipitated from the steam were like a condiment to soak up with the fish. All of it was nicely spiced and so delicious, we ate our packets up in minutes. We really enjoyed experimenting with this method. It was great how this dinner of intrigue actually turned out…not the prettiest but absolutely delicious! Bonus; clean-up was mostly throw away and a bit of rinsing.