December 21, 2016
En papillote means "in parchment" in French. It's a cooking technique that is especially beneficial to fish — the enclosed packet allows fish to gently cook in its own steam and remain moist. When you finally get to open up the papillote, the aromas of any vegetables and herbs added is a wonderful surprise at the dinner table. And at the bottom of the packet, you will find a delicious sauce that pairs well with rice.
Walleye is such a mild-tasting fish that it takes on just about any flavors you can imagine. I chose to go the Asian route, but you can cook your fish with any combination of vegetables, herbs and seasonings you like. Just be aware of the thickness of both your fish and vegetables so they finish cooking at the same time.
I enjoy this dish because it's simple, yet sophisticated. It can be a quick, healthy meal on weeknights or a fun, impressive dish to serve at dinner parties. Each guest can assemble their own packet and then open them up to eat just 20 minutes later. It's definitely different from all the fried fish everyone else has been cooking all summer.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
- 4 (4-ounce) walleye fillets
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 1½ cups of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 ounces of fresh snow peas
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Cooked jasmine white rice
Scallion-Ginger Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoons of peanut oil
- ¼ teaspoon of Asian sesame seed oil (dark)
- 3 green onions, white and light green parts finely julienned
- 2-inch by ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
- ¼ cup of low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 Thai (bird's eye) chili, minced
Special Equipment: parchment paper
- Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Cut out 4 sheets of parchment paper into 12- by 12-inch squares. Fold each sheet in half and divide halved tomatoes, snow peas and sliced shallot between each sheet, laying ingredients only on one side of the fold. Sprinkle salt, pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over vegetables.
- Rinse walleye fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Check for leftover bones. Lay one fillet over vegetables — skin-side down if fillets still have skin on them. Sprinkle salt, pepper and drizzle olive oil over fish.
- Fold the parchment over fish and vegetables. Starting at one end of the fold, make little folds on top of each other to form a sealed packet around ingredients. If necessary, cut a half circle around the ingredients to get rid of excess parchment to seal more neatly.
- Lay packets on a cookie sheet(s) in one layer. Bake walleye for 15-20 minutes in a 400° F oven until fish is cooked through. Do not open packets mid-way to check doneness — you will lose the steaming effect.
- While the fish is in the oven, make the scallion-ginger soy sauce. Gently heat peanut oil, sesame oil, julienned green onion, and ginger in a small saucepan until warmed, but do not brown. Take off heat and mix in the rest of the ingredients.
- Serve fish immediately, and allow each guest to open up his/her own walleye en papillote at the table. They may eat right out of the packet or slide everything onto their plate. Give the scallion-ginger sauce a good mix and drizzle over fish. Serve with hot jasmine white rice.