Flounder en Papillote with Fennel, Grape Tomatoes, Tarragon & Lime

This is an update to my Tomato Basil Salmon en Papillote and Shark Loin in Foil Packets. Those were before my chef training days and the wrapping of the parchment paper is incorrect because there’s no room for the steam to baste every ingredient with its own juices! I also didn’t seal it properly. The foil is the modern way of wrapping it and it requires less “skill”/technique. But to my recollection, both ways still tasted great and I loved how there was little/minimal clean up involved.

In school, we practiced this technique twice; once in level 1 and the other in level 3. Well, repeatedly in level 3, which focused on consistency. In level 3, we did it with striped bass with tomato fondue, mushrooms duxelles, and julienned carrots, leeks, and celery. It definitely wasn’t “quick and easy” as I have labeled here on my blog. We made 4 portions: we had to fillet our own fish and OMG, pin bones!!! Stubborn pin bones, DIE!!! Cooking the finely diced tomatoes and mushrooms, separately, took a long time. Then with your knife, we had to julienne those three garnitures and cook them, separately, until tender, before putting them into the parchment paper envelope. I hate julienning carrots because when you slice a carrot really thinly, it curls and, gahhhhhh! It just gets frustrating.

There are three cooking techniques in papillote: baking, braising, and steaming! Or if you want to be really “French” about it: VAPEUR!!! That’s what our chef instructors drilled into our heads. Haha.

Anyway, I also decided to make this because I still can’t stop using my Japanese mandolin! Even after my accident at work last week!

By the way, this recipe serves 1.

[100% organic, wild flounder]

  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ small fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • 1 large flounder fillet
  • 2 slices lime
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tarragon leaves
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 egg white
  • White wine, splash
  • EVOO
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a small pan, sweat the onions on low heat with 1 TBS of olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the half of the minced garlic and sweat for another 30 seconds. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let it cool at room temperature.

In a bowl, mix the grape tomatoes with the remaining minced garlic, some salt, pepper, and EVOO. Toss and set aside.

Using a mandolin, slice the fennel bulb razor thin and place in ice cold water with ice.

Remove yolk from egg, keep white and beat lightly.

TO ASSEMBLE

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Take shaved fennel out of the iced water and dry on paper/hand towels and season with salt, pepper, lime juice and apple cider vinegar. Toss and set aside.

Cut the parchment paper (12 x16 in) into a heart shape. Season the fillet with salt and pepper. Place the cooled onion mixture on one half of the heart-shaped parchment paper, but not too close to the fold. Spoon tomatoes in a single layer over onions. Sprinkle the tarragon leaves over tomatoes.

Fold/roll the fillet so that it fits nicely on top of tarragon, tomatoes, and onions. Top with seasoned fennel and remaining tomatoes. I put 1 TBS of butter into the folded fish fillet and the other 1 TBS butter around at the end. Lastly, splash some white wine over the fish.

Brush the edges of the paper heart with the lightly beaten egg white. Fold paper heart in half, and press the edges together to seal. Brush the edges of the folded package with the beaten egg white and make a series of short folds along the edges. For an extra secure seal, repeat by brushing the edges again with egg white and repeat the short folds. Using a pastry brush, very lightly oil the top of the papillote so that the paper doesn’t burn too much in the oven.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. When finished, piece a tiny hole on top of the papillote and serve immediately with toasted bread to soak up the juices!

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