Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Sea Bass en Papillote with Fennel

Fish en papillote is simply done by enclosing the fish in a parchment paper packet and baking it in the oven so essentially the fish steams in its own wonderfulness.  I was looking for its recipes and I noted that most say to cut the parchment paper into a heart shape and putting the fish on one half of the heart and the other half goes over it.  I just thought that was brilliant -- best date dish ever.  Next time you want to show your significant other that you care -- forget about chocolates, champagne and other cliched aphrodisiacs -- it's time for fish en papillote. Set the scene: soft instrumental music, dim lighting, table set up, your stunning woman/man sitting opposite you sipping wine and nibbling on the delicious antipasti you put out.  Then she/he opens up this parcel to reveal the heart with a beautiful piece of fish in the middle.  Oh my god, you can even enclose a ring in it!  That's the best way to propose.  Putting it in cakes/drinks risks choking to death.  Have it right there on top of the fish in the middle of the parchment paper heart.  Although it'd probably smell quite fish and you risk scalding their finger.
 If not, it's elegant and easy for your next dinner party.  You can make several small packets -- as many as your oven will fit. Also, it's easier to clean up.

serves 2
2 fillets of sea bass
1/2 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan and add the fennel and shallot slices.  Cook over low heat until tender, about 10 minutes.  

Cut out a large piece of parchment paper -- it should be big enough so that you can fold it in half and encase the fish with plenty of room. 

Fold the parchment paper in half, and cut a half heart so that when you open it up it's a full heart. 

Repeat with the second piece of parchment paper. 

On each of the pieces of paper: place a couple of lemon slices, fennel and onions in the center of one half of the heart.  Season the fish on both sides and lay the fish on top of the vegetables.

Fold over the parchment paper, and starting from the top, press down to make a crease and work your way down so it's all fully encased. 

Put in the oven to bake for 8-12 minutes until cooked through.  It should be all puffed up and slightly browned. 

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