Thursday, April 26, 2012

Salmon in Parchment – Terrifyingly Easy

Cooking fish in parchment paper is incredibly simple, and yet fairly terrifying for a novice cook. Since the seafood is encased in paper, there’s really no good way to check if it’s done, and so you’re basically going on time and experience, and this can be scary for even grizzled old chefs.

The good news: if you use a large, center-cut salmon filet, about 8 or 9 ounces, and cook it for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F., you’re going to be very, very close. After making this a couple times, you’ll adjust your cooking time to suit your personal needs, and once you dial it in, it’s a foolproof technique.

So, where and how do you get some professional parchment paper? It’s as easy as finding a donut…literally. Every single bakery in existence has a box of parchment paper sitting on a shelf somewhere. It comes in large boxes, containing thousands of sheets, and if you’re nice and/or offer them a few bucks, they will happily give you some.

And the great thing about parchment paper is that it’s so thin, when they pinch you off a quarter-inch from the top of the pile, they’re actually handing you hundreds of sheets. So, for a mere $5 bribe, you’ll have a couple years worth of paper. 

Anyway, once you’ve acquired the parchment, the rest is easy. Just make sure your fish is completely thawed. It doesn’t need to be room temp, but if it’s still ice-cold, the cooking time will be longer. Also, be sure whatever vegetables you include in the packet are pre-cooked enough to finish during the 15 minute cooking time.

By the way, in addition to cooking “en papillote,” parchment paper it’s also perfect for those occasional proclamations and decrees. Speaking of which, I hereby proclaim that this was really fun and delicious, and I decree that you give salmon in parchment a try soon. Enjoy!


2 large, center-cut salmon filet, 8 or 9 ounces each, boneless-skinless
2 sheets of parchment cut into large heart shape (the surface area of half your “heart” should be a little bigger than the size of a large dinner plate)
seasoning to taste
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of olive oil or butter
cooked potatoes and veggies as needed.
*Note: I served mine with a very light mustard aioli, which was simply mayo, Dijon, lemon juice and a touch of garlic.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F., then let sit 4-5 minutes before cutting open.

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