Saturday 29th April 2017

Seafood en Papillotte.

This dish is simplicity itself and looks and tastes of a lot more effort.  Many things are cooked en papillotte, seafood especially because it takes so well to steaming.  The term merely means “in parchment”.  As long as you choose ingredients that release juices, the whole package will steam in the oven, marrying their flavours together and retaining moisture.  I like to put a small, concealed square of tin foil in the middle on which to sit my ingredients, so that it doesn’t soak through the paper.

Over the course of the morning, I had braised some diced carrots with a little olive oil and white wine in the oven, very slowly, at a low temperature so that they retained as much of their goodness as possible.  I had par-cooked some diced potatoes, also in the oven, so that they were cooked through and ready to crisp for serving.  You could also caramelise some onions and perhaps a little garlic but I left my onions and garlic diced and raw so that they would release their flavours directly into the parcel.

The bottom layer was made up of the braised carrots, a few capers and some sweet cherry tomatoes, together with some finely diced onions and garlic.  On top of that, I put a small langoustine (claws, head and shell removed, tail left on for presentation), a piece of monkfish and a whole scallop (including roe).  I seasoned and added the tiniest drizzle of olive oil, wrapped up the parcel (like a present) and put it in a medium oven for about 20 minutes.  I am always very aware and worried about overcooking fish and seafood – there can be no worse crime than a dry piece of fish or a prawn that has been cooked for so long it sticks to its shell.  I am therefore slightly neurotic about it and check it for firmness (a sign of how cooked it is) every 5 minutes.  Opening the oven too often and for too long does bring with it the danger that all the steam leaches out so if you are going to be obsessive compulsive about it, be quick.

About halfway through cooking, put the potatoes in the oven or a pan to crisp and a few pieces of bacon under the grill.  It needs to be served as soon as it comes out of the oven so have everything ready.  It would go well with some beans or wilted spinach, or perhaps a peppery rocket or herb salad, or maybe just some crusty bread.

When it is firm to the touch, it can be removed from the oven.  Open the paper just a little, for presentation, drop in a few crisp potatoes and a slice of grilled bacon and serve.

Ingredients

1 large scallop per person

1 large langoustine per person, head and shell removed

100g monkfish per person

1 tsp finely chopped garlic per person

1 tsp finely chopped onion per person

1 tsp finely chopped carrots per person

3 pieces of sundried tomatoes per person

1 slice bacon per person

1 tbsp diced potatoes per person

Olive oil

Finely chopped parsley

 

Method

1.             Slowly braise the carrots, onion and garlic with some seasoning until they are soft.  Set aside.

2.             Cook the potatoes in a pan or in the oven until they are tender but not too dark.

3.             Cut a large square of baking parchment, and place in the centre, a small square of tin foil.

4.             Put the carrots, onions and garlic on top of the foil, and the scallop, langoustine and monkfish on top of them.

5.             Season, drizzle over a little olive oil and wrap up the parchment to form a parcel.

6.             Cook in the oven at about 180°C checking after 20 minutes and then at 10 minute intervals.

7.             When the fish is just undercooked, set aside and crisp up the potatoes in a pan.

8.             Cook the bacon under the grill until the fat is sizzling and crispy.

9.             Warm the sundried tomatoes

10.         Open the parchment package a little and serve the potatoes, bacon, sundried tomatoes and parsley on top of the fish.

Variations

You can use any fish or seafood that you have to hand  - clams, mussels, salmon, seabass, flavour with different herbs, a little lemon, a tablespoon of cream.

[All photographs by Su-Li Chan]

To see more of her recipes go to Su-Li’s website or join her Secret Supper Club. Su-Li is one of our new exclusive contributors – expect a lot more delicious recipes from her on Neon Cactus!

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