Again, a busy but non-noteworthy day at work. BUT, then I went home and made some excellent, excellent fish. So here’s the recipe. This time, I used a rascasse (a type of scorpionfish), which has a more buttery flavor than the maigre from yesterday. Nonetheless, the results were delicious. The whole spices I used here are optional, but certainly add some flavor.
Whole Fish in Papillote
- 1 white-fleshed fish, about as wide as a dinner plate and no thicker than 2 inches thick at its widest point
- 1 red onion, sliced in thin rounds
- ½ bulb of fennel, sliced thinly from the base to the stalks to create thin horseshoes
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 key lime or ½ lemon, juiced
- whole coriander seeds
- whole fennel seeds
- whole cumin seeds
- olive oil
- (equipment: parchment paper, roasting pan)
- Start preheating your oven to 200ºC (around 400ºF)
- Slice the onions, fennel and garlic and place on a dish near where you’ll be preparing the fish.
- Cut a length of parchment paper that is as long as the fish and twice as wide (i.e., enough to wrap the fish). Fold the parchment paper lengthwise and then open again. The fish will be placed on one side of this crease, and then folded over.
- Before bringing preparing the fish, you can prepare your first layer of aromatics. Lay down a row of onion rounds, then a thin layer of fennel, and then another layer of garlic. Leave enough aromatics for the other side of the fish as well as the cavity.
- Wash the fish under very cold water in your kitchen sink, running your hands over the body of the fish and feeling for any remaining scales (note: there are always scales left around the head). Rub the belly cavity under running water to remove any bits of blood and check that the internal organs have all been removed.
- [Also, if your fish’s fins haven’t been trimmed by your fishmonger, get a pair of scissors and cut them close to the body.]
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels and transfer to the parchment paper but don’t place it on the vegetables yet. Salt liberally on both sides of the fish and in the cavity, then lay it down on top of the vegetables.
- Stuff the cavity with aromatics, and then lay the remaining vegetables on the top side of the fish.
- Fold the parchment paper over and start to fold the two layers of parchment paper together by making overlapping diagonal folds. Be careful not to rip the paper on the pointy bits of the fish (fins, mouth, tail); you can use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper to avoid tearing, but the acidity of the lemon juice will react with the aluminum and create odd flavors.
- Carefully transfer the papillote package to the roasting pan, and then place in the oven.
- Cook for 30 minutes (25 if the fish is a bit thin)
- Pull the papillote and carefully transfer the fish to your dinner plate. The parchment paper is probably quite wet on the bottom, so it will tear easily. A pair of flat spatulas will probably help.
- With a sharp knife or a pair of scissors, cut the top of the papillote along its length and pull back to expose the fish. Stick a fork into the thickest part of the fish along the spine and twist gently. The flesh should flake away easily.