I recently asked Brian if there was anything special he would like to eat. His suggestion was fish. But what fish should it be? We headed over to the fish market across the bay to see what was fresh. A big sign was up on the display case saying that the cod just came in. Brian said that he would like it if I didn’t mind to cook it. Of course I didn’t mind, how to cook it was more like the question I had on my mind. I thought back to culinary school and when I was in the last few weeks of my studies in the “fine dining” restaurant and had to cook cod. Since it was a Le Cordon Blue School, and French cuisine at its best I decided to prepare and cook it en papilliote. If you are unfamiliar with this term it means that you are cooking the fish in paper, and when it cooks it steams itself leaving you with this beautiful flaky and moist piece of fish. You can season it and cook it with whatever you like, you just have to consider that it has to steam cook with the fish.
It is best to pair it with something small, seasonal, and that will pair well with the fish. I decided to keep it uber simple, and use what I had gotten fresh at the farmers market. Some carrots, asparagus, corn kernels, small chopped shallot, and some sea beans…all in all I felt it was a great combo. In school we would prepare this with a large piece of parchment cut into a heart shape, place the fish in the center and fold the edges around to seal it. I opted for something much simpler and place it all in a brown paper bag twisting the open edge under itself. In less than a half hour you have something beautiful to eat and extremely flavorful. It also impresses others to serve them a paper wrapped fish that they get to unwrap. If you try it I bet you will impress yourself.
Cod En Papilliote (serves 4)
4 cod fillets (about 8 – 10 oz each piece)
1 – 2 carrots, cubed small
2 shallots, chopped small
Asparagus (bout 8 stalks), trimmed and chopped small)
I ear of corn, kernels cut off
¼ cup of sea beans
Fresh black pepper to taste
½ stick of butter, room temperature
4 brown paper bags (the old lunch bag kind)
Fresh lemon wedges for serving
First, preheat your oven to 375 – 400 degrees. Have all your ingredients ready to work with. On a clean surface place your cod fillet and place a bit of butter in the top and sprinkle with freshly black pepper.
Next, arrange your prepared veggies onto of your cod fillet neatly, without over piling them. With your paper bags ready and on a sheet pan gently lift your prepared filets with a pair of tongs or a spatula. Gently place into the paper bag on the sheet pan (the less you fondle them the better). Twist the edge of the bag and tuck it under itself.
Then, when all your cod filets are done and wrapped place them in the oven for about 20 minutes. (This is one of those times when you have to trust your own judgment if you had thin fillets they will take less time to cook. Thicker ones may need 5 – 10 more minutes) The bags will brown slightly and may ooze some moisture but that is all to be expected.
Finally, remove from the oven and onto the plates you will eat them on. You and your guests will rip off the paper bag to expose the beautifully cook fish. Squeeze some fresh lemon on them and they are ready to eat.
Note: I used Sea Beans witch can be very salty in flavor and therefor left out the salt in this dish. If you choose not to use the Sea Beans you will want to sprinkle your fillets with sea salt when you sprinkle them with the black pepper.