Red Snapper en Papillote

Edited by Seighart, Eng, Monika, Nerissa Avisado and 1 other

There is a growing awareness today that it is healthier to start eating more fish than meat. However, the sad fact is, there are more festive meat recipes than fish. For example, ham and turkey have become globally accepted centerpiece dishes for Thanksgiving and New Year's, but few fish or seafood dishes come close to the same level of popularity. There is definitely a need for restaurants and home kitchens to expand their repertoire of fish and seafood cuisine, and red snapper en papillote is a good dish to start with.

En papillote (translated from French to "in parchment") is a method of cooking in which food is baked while wrapped in a paper bag, or in pocket of parchment paper, or a pouch made of foil. When food is cooked this way, it is steamed in its own juices and whatever fluids the cook may have added. This can be stock, water, or wine. The dish comes out moist and is served with a little drama: The papillote is opened at the dinner table so that guests catch the aroma of the steamed food.


This manner of cooking is most often used with vegetables and fish, but poultry and lamb can also come out very well when cooked in papillote. Several varieties of fish have become popular as the main ingredient for this procedure: Tuna, salmon, grouper, black bass, halibut, striped bass, and of course, red snapper. Red snapper is one of the best materials for cooking en papillote because this fish has firm flesh and it has a rich, distinctive flavor that simply smells heavenly when the sealed packet is opened.

There are many versions of fish cooked in papillote, or at least cooked within a pouch. Asians for example, like to do their fish with ginger, bok choi, soy sauce and sesame oil, while some chefs will lend it a gourmet touch by using truffle oil and wine. Some restaurants will add greens to give it a rustic flavor while others will create a hearty adaptation by putting a few chunky vegetables. As a whole, cooking en papillote is a dish that allows the pristine taste of fresh fish to come out. Red snapper en papillote is no exception. It is a refreshingly light yet satisfying entry that you and your guests will surely enjoy.

Making the papillote:

Successfully using this method to cook fish or any other ingredient depends not only on the recipe; the cook must seal the pouch very well so to create a sufficiently high temperature within the pouch. At the same time, he must create a pouch large enough for the heat to circulate within and cook the fish and vegetables evenly.

  1. 1
    Take a piece of parchment paper large enough to totally envelope your ingredients loosely
    Fold the parchment in half and cut the parchment into half a heart.
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  2. 2
    Open the paper and arrange al ingredients and whatever you will be cooking on one side.
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  3. 3
    Make small overlapping folds all throughout the open edge of the paper to seal the pouch
    If baking, use a rimmed baking sheet; if grilling, use foil instead of parchment paper.
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  • 4 pieces red snapper fillet with skin
  • 4 tablespoons fat
  • 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Thyme, marjoram, oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 ½ tablespoon lemon Juice
  • 1 1/3 cups carrots, julienned and blanched
  • 2/3 cup leeks, julienned
  • 4 pieces parchment paper


  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place two baking sheets on the center rack
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  • 2
    Fold four pieces of parchment paper (about 24 inches in length) in half crosswise, and cut each into a half-heart shape, and open
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  • 3
    On one side of the heart, create a bed with the vegetables, herbs and shallots
    Save some to top the fish with. Place one fillet on each piece of parchment. Sprinkle the fish with lemon juice, and arrange the remaining vegetables and herbs on top.
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  • 4
    Fold parchment over the ingredients, making tight overlapping folds to completely seal packet.
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  • 5
    Place packets on heated baking sheets and bake for 18 minutes
    At the end of this period the paper should appear puffed.
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  • 6
    Transfer packets to individual plates
    Timing is of the essence, so serve immediately.
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  • Tips, Tricks and Warnings:

    • You can create virtually any fish recipe and cook it en papillote. One interesting variation would be to cook snapper or grouper or striped bass with tomatoes, squash, and basil. One other version would be to cook it with peppercorns, capers, dill, and fennel. Still another cook prepared his red snapper en papillote with polenta.
    • This recipe would also taste delicious with the use of butter, white wine, tarragon, and chervil.
    • If you are feeling adventurous, create an en papillote version of cioppino by including a shrimp, and a chunk of crabmeat in the packet with some sun-dried tomatoes.
    • Do not overcook the fish, and serve it immediately. Half the fun of cooking in a pouch is seeing the thrill in your guests' faces when they open the papillote and are greeted with the aroma of its contents.
    • Use this method only if you have really good, fresh fish. While on one hand, cooking en papillote allows the purest flavors of your ingredients to surface, on the other hand it allows virtually no masking of the quality of your material.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


    Article Info

    Categories : Meats & Main Dishes

    Recent edits by: Nerissa Avisado, Monika, Eng

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