I can be frugal. Tonight’s dinner was “en papillote” but I ran out of parchment paper. “En papillote” simply means “in paper”.
I’ve seen many dishes that are tucked into little packages of foil, parchment, pastry or phyllo. The Greeks have a dish called Kleftiko and lamb or chicken are usually the hidden main. Today I’m using a brown paper bag that we all used to lug our lunch in for school.
Your ingredients can be what you want, the possibilities are endless. In this instance, I used a fillet of sea bass. The French call this fish Loup de Mer and us Greeks call it Lavraki.
The cooking process is easy. The important instructions to follow are the technique:
- Only use brown paper lunch bags, unrecycled. Do not use paper bags from a fast food eatery, supermarket or any other bag for other commercial use.
- Soak the paper bags thoroughly in vegetable or olive oil in a casserole or other vessel.
- Ensure the paper bags have absorbed the oil.
- Before filling the bags with your fish, hang and wipe away any excess oil. This is important as you don’t want excess oil to smoke in your oven.
- Turn the kitchen fan on as you may get some smoking but be assured, the paper bag will not catch fire.
- Do not overcook your fish. This could lead to the bottom part of the bag to stick to your fish.
- Have someone help you inserting the fish into the bag. I like including some thinly sliced potatoes with fish, some herbs and lemon wedges. Have someone hold the bag open for you while you pick up and slide the fish medley neatly into the bag.
- I’ve found a preheated oven of 425F, middle rack to work best. Bake your fish in a bag for 15-20 minutes, maximum.
- Cut the accompanying potatoes and vegetables, etc. thinly so that they may cook in the same time that the fish takes.
- Place your fish packets on a baking sheet for baking.
- Carefully fold the opening of the paper bag underneath to create a seal. The better the seal, the better the fish will cook from the steam.
Are you with me so far? It’s not rocket science but a neat, easy way to present a meal to friends and guests. I got a big kick out of cutting open the paper lunch bag with my kitchen scissors.
Think of flavours that you like for fish and try them out using this method. Here, I’m showing you a baked fish in a paper bag with classic Greek ingredients. I’ll be playing around with other flavours and I’ll be sure to share them with you!
Sea Bass Baked in a Paper Bag
1 sea bass fillet
1 brown paper lunch bag
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 potato, thinly sliced
1 scallion, white part only, julienned
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt or Vegeta seasoning
(chicken or vegetable soup base)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lemon slice
Extra-virgin olive oil for finishing
Pre-heated 425F oven
- Take your brown paper bag and place in a baking dish and cover it with olive or vegetable oil. Allow the bag(s) to soak up the oil.
- Rinse you fillet and pat dry. Place your fillet on a flat work surface and build your packet. Season your fillet with salt and pepper. Now place your row of potato slices onto the fish.
- Season the top of the potatoes and top with your herbs and finish off with a slice of lemon.
- Carefully wipe away any excess oil from the paper bags and place them on the baking sheet.
- Have someone else hold the bag open for you. Using a wide spatula and your hand, carefully lift and slide the fish into the bag without disturbing your layers too much.
- Carefully fold the opening of the bag down and underneath the body of the bag to form a seal.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes on the middle rack. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Place each bag onto a plate and have cut open a slit into the top of the bag to reveal the surprise. Have some extra-virgin olive oil on hand for a final drizzle.
. All rights reserved.