Day 12 – Intro to fish

16 Jul

The finished dish above is the result of “Poisson en papillote” (Fish baked in parchment paper). It was delicious. Anne and I had the same problem – we added too much wine to ours, but I told Chef Peter that’s natural considering how much I like wine 😉 I’m not sure that won me any points. At any rate, it was a great process to work through.

We each got to play with a whole bass.  I think I used 4 different tools to actually get mine clean. I wouldn’t say I “butchered” my fish, but my fillets were not as beautiful as I would have hoped. We also got to clean and fillet a trout for our first fish creation, which was crispy skin pan-fried trout fillets with a brown butter, lemon, caper, parsley, crouton topping. That was also delicious. But, I think the poisson en papillote recipe is more stunning presentation-wise, so I’ll post the recipe here.

There are a few different components: 1) fish, 2) tomato fondue (recipe is in Day 10 post and is the same topping for the cooked vegetable salad), 3) duxelles, which is a chopped up and sauteed mushroom mixture, and 4) vegetable garnish, all julienned.

Ingredients for Fish and papillotes (yields 4): 1) 4 fillets of red snapper or bass, about 4-5 oz each, 2) 1 T butter, 3) white wine (you’ll just need a splash, so open something good to drink with dinner), 4) fresh thyme, 5) parchment paper.

Ingredients for tomato fondue: Look at Day 10 blog post.

Ingredients for Duxelles: 1) about 8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped, 2) 2 shallots, minced, 3) pat of butter, 4) splash of lemon juice, 5) salt.

Ingredients for vegetable garnish: 1) about a handful of each of the vegetables, julienned, for each serving – carrots, leeks, and celery.

Directions: 1) Make tomato fondue (or you can use a tomato relish if you have one in the fridge), 2) Meanwhile, blanch the julienned vegetables in salted water so that they are barely tender (they will finish cooking en papillote, so don’t overcook them). Set aside. 3) In a clean pan, saute the shallots and when soft, add the mushrooms, simmer for a few minutes, and then add the wine, salt and pepper. The idea here is to have most of the liquid simmer off, so you end up with moist but not wet/mushy mushrooms. Just before you take them off the heat, throw in just a dash of lemon juice, if you have it, to prevent oxidation of the mushrooms. Set aside to cool. 4) When the three of these items are done, prepare the fish. Wash and dry fillets. Set aside for the moment. Fold a large piece of parchment paper in half and cut it into a large heart shape, so that the seam of the fold is the vertical half-way point of the paper. Open and butter one side of the heart, leaving about a 1 inch rim without butter. Put a small amount of the duxelles mixture near the fold of the heart and the same size portion of the tomato fondue right next to it so you’re creating a bed for the fillet to sit on. Add one fillet on top of those mixtures. Season fillet with salt and pepper. Top the fillet with the blanched, julienned vegetables. Top all with a pat of butter, fresh thyme leaves and just a splash of wine – not kidding on this one. Here’s how it should look on the paper before you close it.
5) Make an egg wash and get out a basting brush. Trace the inside edges of the heart parchment paper with the egg wash and then fold half of the heart parchment paper on top of the other half, so you seal it to make a half heart. The egg wash should help make sure it stays shut. After shut, go around and crimp or make small folds on top of each other with the outer edges. The only way this dish is going to work is if your parchment paper does not let steam escape. It’s all about the steam in this one, kids. Do this 3 more times if you plan to serve 4. Each person should get their own fabulous little packet. Place your parchment packets on a sheet pan(s) and bake at 450 degrees F for about 7-8 minutes (depending upon the size of your fillets). The parchment should puff up and brown a bit on the outside. Plate each one by opening one end of the parchment with scissors and carefully sliding everything out all at once onto a warm plate. There will be hot steam coming out, so don’t stick your face in there. Or, bring all packets to the table, demonstrate for your guests and let them have some fun with it. E voila!
Changing gears, we went back and finished our duck confit we started 2 days ago with Chef Tomm. It has a really beautiful mauve/red color to the inside. Carnet doesn’t know it, but he’s getting a piece for dinner tonight, along with my and Mark’s portions of the poisson en papillote. That is, right after we have a few drinks down the street at Bar Bambino, where one of the best sommelier’s in the city works.

4 Responses to “Day 12 – Intro to fish”

  1. suzi hauswald July 16, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    You are the bomb Rachel!!! If you need a kitchen to play in…..head north to Gypsy Acres and we can have a weekend of playing in the kitchen.
    So proud of your courage to tackle all this!

  2. Bee Leng Chua July 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    I have forgotten how to scale a fish. In Asian wet markets, its done right in front of you with scales a flying so that you’d know that it is fresh! The scaler is the key. For fish with big hard scales – its tough. The recipe of fish in parchment is excellently described. Makes me want go do it. The mushrooms and vegetables accompanying are enticing to try. I’d like to try this but that means have to plan a dinner and invite people over. In addition to bass, what other fish would work?
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Bee Leng

    • rachelogdie July 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

      Hi Bee Leng,

      I would use any white, flaky fish or salmon would work. I probably would not use a really oily or fatty fish, as the butter and white wine do a nice job steaming the fish in the parchment paper.

  3. Shannon July 18, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    Seems to me that ANYTHING en papillote is good (kinda like anything in garlic/butter…I mean, who ever thought to eat snails??!!)
    Must, must come up and try this when you’re back…

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