Food & Wine

Basic Halibut en Papillote with Lemon and White Wine

The Tri-City Herald Food & Wine section June 22 will feature Menu Planner, a weekly feature giving seven days of dinner menus, shopping hints and tips on using leftovers from one meal in a new way later in the week. The section also includes more recipes plus buying, cooking and health tips on a variety of food-related subjects.

Basic Halibut en Papillote with Lemon and White Wine

To cook en papillote means to cook in parchment paper. All the ingredients are wrapped inside and the moisture trapped inside steams the fish. It’s perfect for fish that are more delicate and harder to handle. You can even serve the fish in its parchment wrapping, like a present on a plate. Healthy, easy, presentsŠ what’s not to love?

Serves 4

4 fillets of halibut (about 6 ounces each)



freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, sliced

8 sprigs fresh thyme

1 egg white, lightly beaten

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white wine


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut out 4 large squares of parchment paper – about 13-inches by 15-inches each.

Place a fillet of halibut on one half of each piece of paper. Season the fish very well with salt and pepper. Top each fillet with lemon slices and thyme sprigs.

Brush the outer rim of the parchment squares with the beaten egg white. Dot each fillet with 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of white wine on each piece of fish.

Fold up each parchment square by folding one half of the paper over onto the other half and pressing together. Make a series of straight folds on the outer rim of the squares to seal the edge together.

Place the four packages onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The package should be puffed up and slightly browned when fully cooked. The fish should feel firm to the touch (you can carefully press on the fish through the paper).

You can serve these simply with the parchment paper cut open to reveal the insides, have your guests cut open the packages at the table, or remove the parchment completely, transferring the tasty insides to a plate.

Recipe explained:

The components required to cook fish en papillote are: a nice fillet of fish, some additional ingredients to provide flavor, a liquid to create steam, and (optionally) some fat to enhance the finished sauce. Once you have all your ingredients, the most challenging part of cooking en papillote is making sure the folds you make around the edges are tight enough to hold in the steam. There are a few tricks that help create the tight seal required.

First of all, using an egg white wash helps “glue” the paper edges together. I like to brush the perimeter of the parchment with egg white before I add any liquid to the package. The egg white wash helps to keep the liquid from running off the paper a little, but more importantly putting the egg white wash on first allows you to fold the edges of the paper immediately after adding the liquid, not giving it time to escape. Secondly, overlap each fold of the paper. Make an initial fold on one corner of the parchment, and then start the second fold in the middle of the first fold. Repeat the folds all the way around the fish and then twist the final fold to help keep it closed.

You won’t be able to see the fish cooking through the parchment, so you have to judge whether the fish is cooked by experience, by touching to feel if the fish is firm, and by gauging 10 minutes at 400 degrees for every inch of fish. Once cooked, the sauce has already been prepared in the parchment pouch. If you choose to serve the fish without the parchment, be sure to pour all that juice over the fish before serving.

From: BLUE JEAN CHEF: Comfortable in the Kitchen by Meredith Laurence Walah.