Fish Baked in Parchment – An experiment with dried mystery pepper

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We spent the weekend in Killington, VT on a ski trip with family and friends. As a result, I am feeling both overly dehydrated (too much apres-ski) and chunky (too much junk food). We had a great time, despite the temperatures being below zero when we arrived but the combination of dry heat, vodka tonics, and consumption of chips-dips-cheeseburgers-fries offset with the occasional Gatorade was definitely taking a toll on my stomach. So today when we got back to Boston (and a fresh foot of snow!) we decided to hit the market for some fish to make for dinner. I didn’t really have a recipe in mind so we didn’t pick up any extra items at the store, just the haddock filets they had on special at the fish counter.

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The following recipe kind of came together by chance, since I was originally going to do my default preparation of baking the fish with a bread crumb & herb topping. But when we got home the February Gourmet had arrived and in it was a recipe for Tilapia with chipotle peppers and some cilantro and that sounded reasonably yummy (and not my same old same old). I was too tired to head back out to the store, so I settled for using up some dried mystery peppers we had in the cabinet (pictured at the top) that my husband had used in a soup a while back – neither of us can remember what kind of peppers these are, so I apologize. They are a bit smokey and have a little kick to them but nothing too strong. Here is the recipe in approximate:

1 Lb Haddock filet (or any white fish filet)

1/2 dried smokey pepper of choice (you can use as much as you like – you will eventually find out, I don’t really like peppers, except for some of the chili pepper varieties)

1/2 cup dry white wine

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Ground cumin

Olive oil

Salt

Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chopped pieces of dried pepper into the white wine and allow the peppers to soften and flavor the wine. Take 2 large pieces of parchment paper (large enough to make a pouch around each piece of fish) – I had 2 long filets. Place the fish onto the parchment, and give it a generous drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Pour half of wine/pepper mix on top of filet, reserve the rest for the second pouch. Dust the filet lightly with the ground cumin and toss in half of cilantro. Fold the parchment into a pouch like this:

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Make sure that it is well sealed so that no liquid escapes and the fish can steam with the rest of the ingredients. I placed it into the oven and baked for about 12 minutes. This is harder to do than regular baked fish since you can’t really see it through the parchment and you really can’t open the pouch and then re-bake (ok, you can, but that would be kind of like cheating). Here is the finished version, which I served with some uber-healthy steamed broccoli:

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There was a good amount of broth in with the fish once it was finished and the flavor was reasonably mild. You could add more vegetables – I could have used some lime juice and maybe some scallions or another aromatic if we had them in the house (and I was too lazy to go back to the store). You could also, in theory, add something like cous cous under or around the fish to soak up some of the broth and essentially have a one parchment bag meal. I did discover I’m not really a fan of haddock, so perhaps next time, along with more aromatics, I’ll probably use tilapia or maybe monkfish.

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5 Responses

  1. i love the idea of cooking in parchemnt .. never tried it though .. but this is very encouraging … looks really delicious .. Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com/

  2. Hi ! Yes, parchment cooking is really really easy and kind of a fun way to steam foods with extra flavor (fish, chicken, vegetables…). You could also use tin foil if you don’t have parchment handy. Parchment is easy to find now in rolls next to the tin foil and plastic wrap in the super market!

  3. Thanks for the ideas … will let u know when u get to try it .. 🙂

  4. pretty sure the mystery pepper is an Anaheim. Not that spicy, but tasty.

    I could be wrong, but I do pay attention to these things.

  5. Ahhhhh, excellent. Thanks for that. We’ve gotten much better at labeling the random dried spices/peppers in our spice closet recently. And you are correct, said mystery pepper was pretty tasty!

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