| Recipes |

Dish of the Week: Fish en Papillote

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for fish en papillote .

French for "in parchment," en papillote is a method of cooking food inside a folded pouch or parcel, typically made of parchment paper, but sometimes with aluminum foil or paper bags. The food is placed inside, often with a bit of wine, water, or stock, and the parchment is overlapped and folded until it is sealed tightly. As the parcel bakes, the trapped moisture heats and forms steam inside the packet, evenly cooking the food without losing any flavor.

While en papillote is a French term that dates back to the 17th century, the method of steaming food inside pouches has been used around the world for much longer. Banana and cassava leaves are used in Malaysia and Indonesia, cornhusks and plantains in Latin America, and water lotus leaves in China. In Italy, parchment is also used, but it is referred to as al cartoccio.

The method is typically used to cook fish, vegetables, and thin cuts of poultry. Herbs and spices are added so that when the pouch is opened at the table, the experience is fully aromatic.

This basic recipe uses fresh herbs, white wine, butter, and lemon to create a sauce that gently coats the fish as it steams. The method stays the same, so feel to change the flavors, adding whatever herbs, vegetables (julienned zucchini, shallots, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, etc.), spices (crushed red pepper, garlic, ginger, curry, Chinese five spice), or other ingredients (soy, citrus, coconut oil) that you have on hand.

Fish en Papillote serves 4

Ingredients 4 4 to 6-oz fish filets (cod, halibut, sole, flounder) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 4 tbsp butter 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded Fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, fennel fronds, dill, chives, rosemary, oregano -- the more the merrier) 1/4 cup white wine


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (if using thinner filets, decrease temp to 375).

Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides and place each in the center of one side of a large square, circle, or cut out heart of parchment paper (if using vegetables, place down first and arrange the fish on top). Top each filet with 1 tbsp of butter, one or two lemon slices, and fresh herbs. Spoon 1 tbsp white wine over the fish.

Fold the parchment over itself to enclose the fish. Then starting at one end, make small overlapping folds, sealing the edges and creating a half-moon shape. Two inches from each end, twist the parchment twice to firmly seal the package.

Repeat with remaining packets and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Serve the fish directly in the packets, allowing each guest to open and experience the aromas.

See more Dishes of the Week: Dish of the Week: Coq Au Vin Dish of the Week: Argentine Chimichurri Dish of the Week: Flourless Chocolate Cake Dish of the Week: New England Clam Chowder Dish of the Week: Beef Stroganoff Dish of the Week: Hushpuppies Dish of the Week: Irish Soda Bread Dish of the Week: Pastitsio Dish of the Week: Chicken Tikka Masala Dish of the Week: The Cuban Sandwich Dish of the Week: Chicken and Chorizo Empanadas Dish of the Week: Potato Kugel Dish of the Week: Korean Fried Chicken Dish of the Week: Wiener Schnitzel Dish of the Week: Mexican Chilaquiles Dish of the Week: Falafel Dish of the Week: Fish and Chips Dish of the Week: Jucy Lucy Dish of the Week: Gazpacho Dish of the Week: Baklava Dish of the Week: Steak au Poivre Dish of the Week: Fried Green Tomatoes Dish of the Week: Turkish Shish Kebab Dish of the Week: Alabama White Sauce Dish of the Week: Plum Clafoutis Dish of the Week: Spaghetti alla Carbonara Dish of the Week: Homemade Pierogi Dish of the Week: Scallion Pancakes Dish of the Week: Mofongo

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.