Got parchment paper? There is no easier way to prepare fish at home. You can prep the packages in advance, the temp and time cooks the fish filets just right, every time, the presentation is fun for everyone, and clean up is a breeze. So, pick up a roll of parchment the next time you’re at the grocery and when you see that super fresh fish for sale, make some presents for dinner!
This preparation, inspired by my Food & Wine archives, creates an almost poached effect on the fish and the bed of potato slices turn tender and just start to caramelize on the bottom. I like using wild cod (usually about ¾-inch thick, depending on the size of the fish, skin removed), but I’m always open to recommendations from the staff at Montana Fish Company. Hopefully you have a fish monger that is knowledgeable about sustainable choices, but you can always educate yourself by checking the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch.
When you are assembling the parchment packages, it is easy to make simple customizations for your diners…no olives here, kid sized portion there…simply write your code with pencil on the outside so everyone gets their personal present come dinner time. Like this:
- fresh fish fillets approximately 5 ounces per serving, skinless
- 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one; you want 16 slices for 4 servings)
- 1 lemon, washed and thinly sliced into rounds
- 1/4 cup pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives, sliced if large
- fresh oregano leaves, from about 4 sprigs
- sea salt
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set out four large squares of parchment (4, 12 – 15 inch long pieces from your roll) on your counter, one for each portion. Pat dry the fish fillets.
- In a small bowl, toss potato slices with a tablespoon of olive oil, the oregano leaves and about ½ teaspoon salt.
- Arrange the potato slices just off-center on each square of parchment, 4 slices each, overlapping slightly to make a thin bed for the fish. Place a piece of fish on top of the potato slices, top with: two slices of lemon, a few olives, a pinch or two of sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil (about ½ teaspoon). Sprinkle on any remaining oregano leaves from the potato bowl.
- Seal the packages. Start by folding over one side of the parchment to make a rectangle. With scissors, roughly trim the parchment to a semi-circle shape. Now, fold along the edge of your semi circle approximate 1 inch overlapping folds (creasing with your fingernail against work surface) all the way around, finishing at the other end with a twist of the paper. (Write name on outside with pencil, if you have custom orders.)
- Place the packages on a sheet pan and pop in the oven. Bake 25 minutes, remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve packages directly on plates so each person can cut theirs open at the table.
- Make a parchment package of side veggies to serve with the fish – thinly sliced fennel on top of any remaining potato slices is quite tasty.
- Packages can be assembled up to 4 hours ahead of baking. Store in refrigerator.