This is another simple dish that can be prepared in advance and put in the oven as your guests enjoy the appetizer. I believe in the principle of eating fish once or twice a week. But I notice lots of unpracticed cooks are intimidated by the notion of preparing fish, especially whole, so I'm always on the lookout for quick and easy preparations. You can substitute flounder, sole, monkfish, salmon, cod, bass, or swordfish for the halibut in this recipe. The cooking time will be shorter with lighter fish, such as sole, and longer with meatier fish, such as swordfish.
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 fillets of halibut, about 4 ounces each
1/2 cup Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut recommended)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
8 thin lemon slices
8 sprigs parsley
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper (or aluminum foil) into squares large enough to cover each fish fillet and leave a 2-inch border all around. Lightly brush 4 squares of the paper with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put each halibut fillet in the center of an oiled square and drizzle with Champagne. Add 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 lemon slices, 2 parsley sprigs, and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds to each piece of fish. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place the remaining parchment squares on top of the fillets and fold up the edges to form packets. Simply double folding each of the four sides is enough to seal each packet. Put the papillotes on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Serve by setting each papillote on a plate. Let your guests open their packets and spoon the juices over the fish. Voilà drama as well as flavor!
N.B. You can use dry white wine or vermouth instead of champagne.
French Women Don't Get Fat
by Mireille Guiliano
Hardcover, 272 pages
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created March 2005
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