You see that beautiful piece of fish down there? That is my idea of a perfect dinner — simple, healthy, light, delicious, seasonal, easy-to-make. If my family didn’t thrive on an ever-changing dinner menu, I would love to eat this twice a week with a fresh salad and a glass of rosé. Perfect.
Fish in parchment is easier than it looks and one of the most healthful ways to cook fish. I have taught and posted two other fish in parchment recipes which you may have tried, one with cilantro and ginger and the second with summer herbs. Both are delicious and perfect when you want something light in the summer.
The basic idea when you’re cooking in parchment, is to use ingredients that all cook pretty quickly and at the same rate. Make sure that parchment is tightly sealed and you’ll create a little steam oven in that packet. I always make sure the fish is well-seasoned with salt and pepper and that I add a smidge of fat, either butter or olive oil for flavor, and then there are lots of possibilities.
Once I see those first local tomatoes at the farmers market, I start going a little tomato-crazy. I especially love cherry tomatoes because they are always so sweet. In this recipe, you can’t beat the combination with the sautéed garlic, salty capers and olives and zingy white wine. I would eat this with a simple rice pilaf or quinoa salad or a raw zucchini salad. My family would probably love a little pasta with pesto to go with it.
I have taught this recipe in my cooking classes many, many times and sometimes I added some raw baby spinach leaves under the fish. The spinach wilts beautifully and tastes delicious with all the other ingredients. Shaved zucchini slices would also be perfect, but you could also add vegetables to the packet like blanched (not raw) green beans or slivers of roasted peppers.
Of course, if there are ingredients in the recipe you don’t care for, feel free to omit. After I finish going over a recipe in my class, I take a few minutes to talk about substitutions. Questions about how to change the recipe are the most common questions that come up — how do I make this gluten-free? My husband won’t eat anything with onion. I hate olives. Etc, etc. I give you permission to take out the olives if you want.
Summer is here, friends. Let’s get cooking!
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
- a handful of mixed fresh herbs (I like to use mostly parsley with a little basil and mint mixed in), if you have them or sprigs of fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning fish
- a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper to taste + extra for seasoning fish
- 4 filets of wild halibut or sole
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter or unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 teaspoons dry white wine
- 4 12-inch squares of unbleached parchment
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add sliced garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and almost golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, capers and fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
- Arrange each piece of fish in the center of the parchment paper and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
- Top each filet with a fourth of the tomato mixture, 1 teaspoon of butter or oil, and 2 teaspoons wine.
- Bring 2 opposite sides of the parchment together and fold. Continue to fold all the way down until you reach the fish. Twist both ends of the parchment so that it looks like a hard candy wrapper. Repeat for each piece of fish. Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes based on the thickness of the fish.
- Transfer each packet to a plate and use caution when opening – the steam will be very hot!
Can you make this up ahead?
Sure. Wrap them up, refrigerate them and stick them in the oven later. If they go from fridge to oven, add an extra couple of minutes since the fish will be cold.
Pamela-where is your favorite place to buy fresh sole locally? I was buying from lazy acres but theirs is always full of bones. Thanks!
Quality Seafood at the Redondo Pier. Pick out your fish and have them scale and debone it. They do the best job of anyplace I have gone, including in LA!
Looks great! Looking forward to making it. What would be a good substitute for white wine? Thanks!
you can skip it or use half the amount of white wine vinegar
This might be a silly question. My friend brought over tons of full size tomatoes and I would like to make this recipe. Can I use chopped regular tomatoes instead of grape tomatoes? Thanks
Not a silly question and yes, that would work great!
Thanks so much!!
I got some wild-caught yellowtail, do you think I could use it in this recipe? I’m trying to incorporate more fish into my family’s diet, but I’m not familiar enough with cooking it yet to be savvy about substitutions. Thanks!
Assuming you got wild yellowtail snapper? That would work here. The key is the thickness of the fish. If it looks thinner than what I used, time it for a couple minutes less.
Ahh, it’s actually yellowtail tuna (hamachi). The fillets definitely look as thick as what you’ve got. Hmmmmm.
Try it! Or just salt and pepper it and sear it and top it with the cherry tomato-garlic-caper mixture.
Not to be persnickety, but yellowtail on the west coast of the U.S. is a jack, not tuna or snapper. We do have yellow fin tuna.
Not at all. I have no idea from what part of the country Lisa is writing.
Just made this for the first time and my entire family loved it! I’m having a large dinner party soon and wanted to know if instead of doing individual filets if I can wrap up in the parchment paper larger pieces of halibut (maybe 2 to 3 portions worth in each) and then cut it up into individual portions after cooked. Should I cook it for slightly longer?
Sure, I don’t see why not. Are you trying to avoid the work of wrapping each individual piece? But yes, would have to cook it for longer, but I would just be guessing by saying 10 minutes longer. You would have to open up the parchment and make sure the fish is flaking. Happy holidays!
Would you suggest tilapia? I am having a dinner party and I am trying to be budget conscious. Thanks
Sure! Tilapia is a little thinner, so maybe cook it for a couple minutes less. True cod is also a delicious fish and usually more budget-friendly. Many times I’ll ask the fishmonger what is freshest that day and tell him what I’m cooking and he can usually give me good advice. 🙂
So yummy and easy, Pamela! Thank you for another gem and staple. I also made a version with fresh corn, omitting the olives and capers, for my husband which he loved.
i have made this twice now and absolutely love it. so easy and delicious!
so nice to hear that! it’s one of my favorite fish recipes for sure!
I made this tonight with yellowtail our neighbor caught off his boat yesterday (30m from Long Beach) and it was absolutely delicious!! Light, healthy, and summer perfect. Thank you for another winning recipe!
Lucky you! 🙂
Omg! I never knew you could cook fish with parchment paper! Obsessed! Making this! xoxox
Love this! Thank you! Making it tomorrow night 🙂
Hope you love it!
Looks great! If you put peppers underneath instead of the spinach – do you roast them first and then put them underneath?
If I were using peppers I would use already roasted or sautéed peppers, not raw. Yes, roast them first (or you can buy peppers already roasted) and dice them up or thinly slice them and add them to the tomato mixture. 🙂