Never one to shy away from trying out a new dish on friends at a dinner party, we were celebrating a birthday of one of our dear friends the other night and in my typical fashion, I wanted to create something special for her, something healthy (as that is always a focus for both her and for me), and something new. We were originally going to grill salmon on cedar planks, but found we didn’t have the planks, but I did have parchment paper….. Salmon en Papillote it would be.
Salmon en Papillote is one of the easiest dishes to make, that also delivers the big WOW factor that will impress guests with both the presentation and the juiciness fish inside. I have done an “en papillote” dish before with steel-head and in all honesty, it didn’t turn out as well as the salmon. The natural fattiness of the fish helps it stay very moist while the fish steams in its little paper bag. Layering tons of fresh herbs, lemon, white wine and a touch of oil gives this dish a fresh, clean flavor; adding a salsa of fresh herbs, peppers, lemon and lime gives it a nice zestiness. Serve with a lively Sauvignon Blanc, we tried one from Duckhorn, or light red, like a Barbera or Pinot Noir from California.
Salmon en Papillote with Herb Salsa Verde
Six 5 ounce salmon filets, debonned and skin removed; we used fresh Atlantic salmon, buy the freshest product you can…it does make a difference
2 lemons, sliced 1/2 inch thin
12 sprigs fresh dill
1 bunch fresh thyme
6 tablespoons white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Additional tool – parchment paper; you could also use aluminum foil, but the wow factor isn’t as cool….
Cut 6 square sheets of parchment paper with a radius slightly larger than each piece of salmon. Lay each piece of salmon, individually, in the upper half of each piece of paper. Season with salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each). Lay 2 sprigs of dill and 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme on top of each piece of salmon. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over each filet, followed by 1 tablespoon of wine. Lay a slice or two of lemon on top of each filet. Crack the egg into a small dish and add a tablespoon of water. Whisk to make an egg wash. Using a pastry brush cover lower portion of the parchment with the egg wash. Fold the top of the parchment over the salmon, and working from one side to the other, begin folding the bottom portion of the parchment around the top, crimping the edges to create a completely closed packet. (The egg will help the parchment adhere to itself.) Place each packet on a baking sheet and in the refrigerator until ready to cook, but at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to marinate together. When ready to cook preheat the oven to 375. Place the whole baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until almost cooked through. I like my salmon slightly underdone, but cook to your taste. Serve immediately by placing the whole packet on each dinner plate. Have guests cut or rip open the top of the packet at once, so each get a whiff of herbs, lemon and the delicious fish together. Have guests slip the fish from their packet and pass a bowl around to gather the paper. Serve with the herb salsa.
Herb Salsa Verde
We literally just gathered every herb from the garden for this salsa, and added a few of our jalapeno peppers. Use whatever herbs you have handy; the key is to keep it fresh and vibrant. Simply delicious with the fish.
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed
6 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
1 sprig fresh sage, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2-3/4 cup good olive oil
2 jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Add all the herbs, garlic, peppers, lemon and lime juice and 2 teaspoons each salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse a few times to combine then slowly drizzle in the olive oil, scraping down the sides as you go. Puree until very well blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in a dish along with the fish; store left over salsa in an airtight container for up to a week.