I love cooking fish and vegetables “en papillote,” meaning the food is tucked into in a little parchment paper or foil packet then cooked in the oven. The method keeps foods moist and seems to infuse the food with whatever herbs and spices you put into the packet along with it. You can add some fresh thyme in a packet with a filet of cod, for example. You can also add some tomatoes or peppers or mushrooms. Then drizzle in a little olive oil or cream or butter or wine or stock. Fold it all up tight and cook at medium heat until done.
I may have mentioned in a previous post that I’m not the best at presentation (it’s usually an afterthought, I’m ashamed to say) and my dishes en papillote are no exception. This is what one of my packets generally looks like:
Not so beautiful, even if the food inside is delectable. This past weekend, though, I was inspired by the gorgeous presentation of a striped bass en papillote at Fig and Olive on Melrose Place in West Hollywood. The fish (and zucchini, eggplant, fennel and tomatoes and thyme) were placed on a round piece of parchment paper. Another round piece was placed on top, then the edges were gently crimped to close the packet. The server then sliced it open at the table and, with a fork, rolled the paper away from my steamy and fragrant dinner. I didn’t take a picture (I’m still a little shy about whipping out my camera in restaurants), but the paper looked something like this:
From now on, I’ll make a little more effort.
And while looking for images to illustrate this post, I fell upon this blog post on the LA Times website, which gives you (and me!) a how-to.
And I do recommend Fig and Olive. (There are a few in New York, too.) The room is gorgeous and everything we tasted, from the tartars and the crostini to the warm chocolate soufflé, was delicious.
8490 Melrose Place