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« Wish you were Here… | Main | Melon and Prosciutto Salad »

Salmon en Papillote

By Zoe Mclaughlin

This is my go-to recipe at least once a week. The term "en papillote" is French for cooked in parchment paper. It's simple, yet elegant, and this dish is packed with flavor. All the ingredients cook together in the same amount of time and the parchment paper locks in the flavor. It’s super-fast, super-easy and leaves you with virtually no clean up.

I have made this dish countless times, changing the ingredients, depending on what I have on hand. This version is Mediterranean in its inspiration, but I often make it with Asian flavors using shiitake mushrooms, scallions, ginger and soy sauce. I used salmon fillets for this recipe but any type of fish such as halibut, sea bass, sole or snapper are great alternatives.

I often serve this dish for dinner parties where it's sure to impress. Normally, I worry about not having enough food, but with this recipe, I can ensure that each guest has his or her fair share. I leave the fish in the packet and have my guests open it at the table. The aromas are fantastic. I serve it with steamed jasmine rice.

The most important step is to make sure the parchment paper is sealed well so none of the steam escapes. You also want to slice your toppings so they are relatively thin, to enable them to cook in the same amount of time as your fish. One of the advantages to cooking this way, besides being a super-healthy technique, is that the parchment packets allow the fish and vegetables to cook in their own juices which results in an extremely flavorful dish.

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Salmon en Papillote
Makes 1 serving

Parchment paper
Olive oil
2 to 3 lemon slices
Salt and pepper
1 salmon fillet, about 4 1/2 ounces and 1 inch thick
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
8 pitted baby kalamata olives or 2 tablespoons sliced olives
1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Cut 1 sheet of parchment paper about 12 inches by 16 inches. Using a pastry brush, brush a little olive oil in the center of the parchment paper where you will be laying the fish. Lay lemon slices on the oil-brushed area. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place salmon fillet on top of lemon slices. Brush salmon with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Top salmon with shallot, cherry tomatoes and olives, dispersing evenly over fish. Don’t worry if they fall off; all ingredients will be captured in the parchment packet. If using white wine, sprinkle over fish.
  2. To make the parchment packet, carefully fold the paper in half lengthwise over the fish. Starting at one folded end, fold the corner in towards the fish, then continue folding, using narrow folds, overlapping the folds to ensure a tight seal, work your way around the fish until you reach the opposite end. When you get to the end, twist the tip to secure tightly. Place salmon on baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. (Fish 1 inch thick should take about 10 minutes; allow 12 minutes for thicker piece.) Parchment will puff up when the fish is done. Place the parchment packet on a dinner plate, cut open carefully with scissors to allow steam to escape; tear back the paper. Work cautiously because steam is very hot and can burn your fingers. Sprinkle with dill and serve immediately.

Note: Instead of parchment paper, you can use pre-made parchment cooking bags. Put ingredients on salmon, then carefully slide fish into the bag, folding open edge twice and crimping the folds to seal securely.

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