I saw one of my oldest friends Jo, over Thanksgiving and we've known each other since we were 13. We see each other about twice a year but we seem to pick up wherever we last left off as if no time has passed. Jo hasn't changed since we first met and that's a big compliment. She is simply awesome because she's still one of the most generous, loyal friends I have ever had. So Jo took me to lunch at a place called the Lightfoot Restaurant in the heart of historic Leesburg, Virginia, where she lives. We had a crab bisque, zucchini fries and chicken salad sandwiches. The food was great and we got to talking about cooking and trying to do more of that at home and I told Jo that I like cooking fish for dinner during the week because it's quick and easy and a healthy protein choice. She was unsure how to cook fish and it's actually a common thing I hear from a lot of people. They just don't know how to prepare fish and worry about under or over cooking it.
My favorite way to cook fish is using a French technique called "en papillote," which means cooking in parchment paper. I place the fish in a piece of parchment paper and fold it up, forming a tightly sealed package. The parchment package will lock in the moisture to gently steam the fish, cooking it to perfection. The moisture can be just from the fish itself or from wine, stock or olive oil. Then seasoning and herbs and even lemon add extra flavor.
I got some cod today at Whole Foods and rinsed it under water and patted it dry. Then I got a piece of parchment paper, using a size about twice the size of the fish. It should be big enough to fold over the fish and enough room so you can roll up the sides. I drizzled a little olive oil over the fish and turned it over to make sure it was evenly coated. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides of the fish. I added a little dried oregano on top and then made my papillote by folding over the parchment and rolling the edges to form a tight seal. I put the fish on a baking sheet in a pre-heated 400 degree oven and cooked it for about 10-12 minutes.
The fish came out perfectly cooked and moist and flavorful. Cooking en papillote is almost fool-proof and the fish cooks beautifully each time. The presentation also has a bit of a wow-factor, great for when you have friends over for dinner. I like to serve the cod over a bed of blanched green beans, but any other veggie would work, like asparagus, zucchini, spinach or kale.
I'm seeing Jo again over Christmas so I may write about some of the things we'll make together. In the meantime, enjoy!