Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 20, 2017

© Ryan Szulc

Salmon in a bag.

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Speedy salmon in a bag

French cooking includes a basic method for steaming fish with vegetables and aromatics inside tightly folded parchment paper. Known as en papillote, it locks in heat and flavours. It’s speedy — and even speedier if you use parchment cooking bags now found in grocery stores.


1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
1 c. (250 ml) pitted black olives
½ c. (125 ml) drained oil-packed dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ c. (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
¼ c. (60 ml) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. (30 ml) fennel seeds
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
4 large skinless salmon fillets (about 6 oz./170 g each)


Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and turn on your convection fan if you have one.

In a large bowl, toss the fennel with the olives, tomatoes, oil, vinegar, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Evenly divide among four parchment bags. Lightly season each salmon fillet with a bit more salt and pepper. Lay the bags on their side and slip a fillet into each one, surrounding it with the aromatic vegetables. Tightly roll or fold up the open end, then use a binder clip, clothespin, or stapler to seal, creating a pocket of moist heat and flavour. Transfer the bags to a baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the bags heat through and puff up with aromatic steam, cooking the fish within. Remove from the oven and place each bag on a plate. Encourage everyone to cut open their own bag, thereby releasing a cloud of fragrant steam. Serves 4.

Twist: Locking salmon, vegetables and fragrant moisture into a bag can easily be adapted with many flavour themes. For Indian-inspired flavour, toss thinly sliced fennel with curry powder, orange juice and mango chutney. For Asian flair, toss thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, onions and snow peas with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and grated ginger.

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