Friday, March 22, 2013

Fish en Papillote (Fish in Parchment Paper)

I used to make this many moons ago.  And by many moons I mean like, up until seven or eight years ago.  Why I ever stopped is beyond me.  I think I'd kind of forgotten about preparing fish this way.  We love fish in our house.  I am one blessed momma to have three kids who love, love, love fish (and lots of other seafood, too).

I looked up Fish en Papillote online just to remind myself of the cooking time and I came across a beautiful version on the blog The Novice Chef.  I appreciate that she presents the recipe as a single serving.  I have chosen to do the same to allow for you to adjust the ingredients to your own needs.  Need three servings?  Just triple the ingredients. 

And, like The Novice Chef, I've chosen to offer the step-by-step photos in collage form ... just to show you how simple this method is and to easily show the progression of the preparation all in one picture.

Think you can't make something as "fancy" looking as this?  (Pah-leeze!)  Don't be scared.  If you can cut a heart out of parchment paper, layer up a few simple ingredients and turn on your oven, then you're all set.

Pick a type of fish.  Decide on a veggie (or two or three).  Layer on some lemons (or even oranges).  And, throw on your choice of herbs and seasoning.  Serve this with some brown rice or couscous on the side ... and you've got a pretty healthy dinner in no time.

And, your family or dinner guests will think you're a genius!  Bon app├ętit.


1 fresh fish filet (I chose tilapia - about 8 ounces)
Vegetable (spinach, asparagus, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes and/or sugar snap peas)
Black pepper
Fresh or dried herb(s)
3 - 5 lemon and/or orange slices
Extra virgin olive oil - for drizzling


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut a large heart out of a square piece of parchment paper.  Open the heart at the fold.  Lay it out on a baking tray.

Place your veggie(s) of choice down on one side of the paper heart.  Top with a couple small pats of butter and any seasoning you prefer (I like simple salt and pepper).

Lay the fish filet across the veggie(s) and top with a few more pats of butter.

Sprinkle on some additional salt and pepper.

Fan out a few lemon slices across the fish.

Top with herbs of your choice (I used thyme this time - pun intended).

Drizzle on a slight bit of olive oil.

To seal, tightly roll the edges towards the fish to ensure no juices leak out while cooking. At this point you can either bake it right away or refrigerate it for a few hours before baking.  (I would not recommend making these up any more in advance than 3 - 4 hours.)

When ready to bake, place tray in oven for 20 - 25 minutes at 400°F (or until fish is cooked through).

Serve immediately.  Serve in the parchment packets and allow guests to cut open their own pouches at time of service.

Note:  The sky really is the limit here.  You can add in par-cooked rice, whatever veggies you prefer and any type of herbs or seasoning.  I even did a batch with tilapia, a 1/2 of a "block" of dried Ramen noodles (seasoning packet discarded), green beans, tomatoes, butter, salt, pepper, lemon slices, orange slices, thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.  (If adding dry Ramen noodles, I suggest a small splash of stock, water or white wine be added to the packet just before sealing.)



  1. Beautiful photos and instructions! I LOVE the ramen noodle idea. So fun. En Papillote was one of the classics I learned in culinary school, and it turns out great every time. Now you have me thinking "Why DON'T I make this at home?"

    1. Happy Friday, Lori! I am thinking that you're probably quite the pro and do more technically correct things to make this dish then. LOL! I just kind of "wing it" and add in whatever I think would be tasty! :) It is one of those dishes that is so easy for the home cook, but I think people are afraid of it. I love fish this way! And, the kids are asking for it again this weekend! :)

      Thanks for visiting! Always lovely to hear from you here on the blog!

  2. What a great dinner idea! I had something similar at a French restaurant years ago, but have never thought to try making it at home. Love your clear instructions + great photos! Thank you!

    1. Lisa, thank you for your kind comments. I've made this twice in one week ... the kids love it. And, I'm happy since I know they are eating something fresh and good for them. :) (And, it's easy to make, so that's a "plus" as a busy mom!)

  3. I am thinking of trying this with a boneless skinless chicken breast since my husband does not like fish. It sounds so good. Thanks again for another delicious recipe.
    Mary from Pittsburgh, Pa

  4. 20-25 minutes is overkill, unless the fish is an inch or thicker