An Exercise in Simplicity:
Is there anything better than packet fish? Probably, however there is a definite reason why this method is employed with fish often. It produces delicious results with ease! You are left to enjoy juicy succulent fish that has been perfumed with the flavors of your choice. Perfect and satisfying!
This meal was not only inspired by the desire to cook something wonderful for my man but it was also inspired by my desire to remember that there is such a season as summer in this subzero harshness! Sometimes my lusting for warmer weather and summer food overrides cooking with what’s seasonal. I’ll tell ya what: this hit the spot!
Also, y’all should know that I don’t actually measure anything when I cook so this is basically an approximation of what I did (sorry, I’m no Ina Garten). If something seems excessive, use less! I trust your judgement!
Whole Roasted Rainbow Trout En Papillote with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Tomato
- 2 whole Rainbow Trout, gutted and scaled
- 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 bunch basil leaves
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of bottom third
- 1 large bunch oyster mushrooms, torn
- 1 large bunch maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms, torn
- 1 vine ripened tomato, sliced into 4 slices
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into three
- 3 teaspoons fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Salt, pepper, olive oil
Special Equipment: a roll of parchment paper
1. Preheat the oven to 325 deg Fahrenheit. Lay out your fish on a baking sheet or cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Lay the fish on their back so that the center cavity falls open and season the insides with salt and pepper as well.
2. Cut a piece of parchment off of the roll that is longer than the fish by about two inches on both ends (head and tail ). Fold the parchment in half lengthwise and make sure that the two sides overlap in the center by about an inch, like so:
Repeat that process with another piece of parchment for your other fish! Now open the parchment back up and start to build the packet by laying down a bed of fennel for the fish to cook on.
3. Lay your seasoned fish on top of the fennel bed. Stuff the center of the fish with a few lemon slices and half of the basil leaves. Sprinkle the top of the fish with a teaspoon of the fennel seeds and half a teaspoon of the red pepper flakes, drizzle with olive oil. Give the whole packet a good heavy splash of the wine and start to crimp. Bring the pieces that were overlapping before together and fold away from you creating about an inch fold and crease all the way lengthwise. Repeat, folding about another inch down and crease all the way down lengthwise. At this point, your fold should be right on top of the fish. On each end, fold the parchment under the fish about 1/2 inch from the head/tail and your packet will be sealed! Transfer to a baking sheet.
I hope I explained that well enough Whether you do it the way I describe or not, as long as you seal the packet somehow you’ll be fine! Bake in a 325 deg oven for 15 mins, then turn the oven off but the leave the fish in for another 10 minutes and it should be perfectly cooked.
4. In the meantime, cook your veggies! Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high heat and throw in a third of the butter and the smashed garlic clove. Allow to heat up together so that the garlic flavors the butter. When hot add the mushrooms into the pan and cook until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to an oven safe plate and keep warm in the oven until everything is ready.
5. Next add a little olive oil to the cast iron and toss in the remaining teaspoon of fennel seeds and start to toast them. When their aroma takes over and they are turning golden, add the asparagus and toss together. Season with salt and pepper and saute for about five minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow to simmer for another five minutes. Squirt on a little lemon juice, add another third of the butter and some of the fennel fronds chopped up. Toss together and when the butter is melted thoroughly transfer the asparagus to the plate with the mushrooms and stash back in the oven.
6. Bring the remaining juices in the cast iron to a boil and reduce by half. When dark and slightly thickened put the tomato slices in the pan and sear on both sides until the edges start to brown. Remove to veggie plate.
7. Pull everything out of the oven and cut open the fish packets making sure to breathe in all that delicious steam like an expensive spa treatment. Mmm. Peel back the skin and go to town! Watch out for pin bones!
I hope you enjoy this! It’s the perfect thing to share with someone you love, no need for separate plates, just two forks! Cheers!