Queenie Cooks: Salmon in Parchment

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: November 17, 2018 | 08:05 a.m.

I grew up on fried fish – mostly bass, perch or flounder.  And through the years I’ve learned to love all sorts of fish cooked in all sorts of delicious ways and interesting places.  I’ve had it prepared over a fire by a stream in Colorado immediately after catching it. I’ve ordered it at a “special place you’ve got to try!” in New Orleans that was so sketchy that the first taxi driver refused to drive there. (The folks were actually wonderful, and that fish was draped all the way across and hanging off both edges of a platter.)  I’ve even ordered it in Greece by pointing to it in an aquarium.  (A bit disconcerting, but delicious.)  But even when I lived at the beach, I was a little bit intimidated about actually preparing any kind of fish myself. 

Then my brother brought me some wild salmon he’d recently caught in Alaska.  (Which has been at the top of MY bucket list for years – the trip, not the fish – but I still love him.)  I didn’t even KNOW intimidation until I saw that gorgeous piece of fish that had traveled over 4,000 miles to end up in my kitchen. He said he’d made some up himself with a combination of things I can’t remember, but I do know that one of the main ingredients was brown sugar, and for some reason the thought of fish and brown sugar together just wasn’t doing it for me.  Of course, I didn’t let him know that.  And I really was almost as excited about trying it as I was terrified of ruining it. But what to do, what to do?   Finally, I just popped it in the freezer and… pondered.

Salmon in parchment is one of the quickest, easiest, and tastiest ways to prepare this particularly nutritious protein

Fast forward about a month, to my birthday trip to visit my sister in New York. (What do people do without siblings???)  We were talking about food in general and fish in particular when I suddenly remembered some wonderful salmon she’d prepared for me a couple of years ago.  When I mentioned that, she said she’d learned an even better way to prepare fish and, well, welcome to today’s taste treat!  

Salmon in parchment really is scrumptious, and so incredibly easy to prepare that I predict it will be a staple at my house from now on.  Basically you just need some salmon, your favorite herbs, coarse-ground salt and pepper, a couple of tablespoonfuls of a moistening agent (like olive oil or broth or probably even white wine) some colorful vegetables if you like – baby spinach is particularly good, and parchment paper. Actually, foil works, too, but don’t tell the French; they can be pretty particular about their Salmon en Papillote – which takes almost as long to say as it does to prepare this. 

Once you’ve decided what flavorings or additions you want to use, just wrap everything up in a neat little package, bake for a few minutes, and voila!  The steam produced inside the parchment leaves you with incredibly moist, delicious, salmon, perfectly cooked.  And what a fun way to serve it, peeling back the parchment at the table to dramatically reveal the feast.  One of my favorite additions is a dry citrus ginger seasoning, but you could add fresh ginger, shallots, orange zest – any of your own favorite flavors.  And while the recipe I’m giving you will tell you how long to cook the pieces called for, if you have different size pieces of fish, a good rule of thumb is to cook it for about 10 minutes per inch of fish thickness. Just don’t overcook it, or you’ll have some very expensive cat food.

And the finished product, whether served alone or surrounded by favorite, colorful vegetables, will make you wonder why you didn’t try this a long time ago!

If you’re not sure it’s done, gently poke the center with your finger. It should yield and produce nice, flaky pieces.  And remember that it’s perfectly okay to cook  salmon to medium-rare or medium to avoid dryness.  When you take it off the parchment, just slide a fish spatula (or any thin, preferably flexible spatula) between the skin and the delicate flesh and everything on the plate will be edible.

So there you have it – my new go-to recipe for a quick, delicious, HEALTHY meal.  In fact, it’s so flavorful, you’ll probably forget that it’s also… *whispering*  low in calories.  Go ahead.  Try it!  And don’t forget to write to me at smilinatyanow@aol.com and let me know how you did yours.  Can’t wait to hear!   Enjoy! 

Salmon in Parchment

TIME 20 minutes

  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
  • About 2 Tablespoonfuls of good Olive Oil
  • Slices of lemon (may substitute lime or orange)
  • Coarse salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place four pieces of parchment or foil about 3 times the size of your fish pieces on a sheet pan. Center the fish pieces on the wrappers and drizzle on olive oil. (May substitute another liquid if you prefer.) Sprinkle on salt and pepper and top with citrus slices.  Fold your parchment wrapper over a couple of times and then fold under the edges, creating four little packages.

Bake in oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending desired doneness, but no longer unless your fish is very thick.  Place packets on plates at the table and have fun unwrapping.  The aroma of the steam as you open them just adds to the experience.  Enjoy!  

Look for Queenie Cooks weekly for recipes that are generally simple to prepare, require relatively few (and easy to find) ingredients, and usually budget friendly as well. We all have to eat. Let’s have some FUN with it!  

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