How To Cook Fish For A Crowd

July 11, 2012 | By | COMMENTS

IMG_3936

Our friend Emily (who also happens to be Craig’s awesome manager; she’s in the apron on the right) had us over for dinner the other night and she pulled off something I would never be brave enough to attempt at a dinner party: she cooked us fish.

Fish is so tricky and temperamental, I’m nervous just to cook it for myself, let alone a crowd of people. I’ve seared fish in a pan, I’ve broiled fish in the oven. These techniques work fine for one or two, but for four? Five? Six? What do you do? Emily had the perfect solution. And it was such a smart solution, I plan to steal this idea for my own fish dinner parties in the future. Not only that: the results were so good I may use her technique for cooking fish just for Craig and myself. And that technique is…

…cooking the fish “en papillote.”

What’s papillote? It’s a parcel or pouch that you make with parchment paper that allows the fish to steam in its own juices (along with wine and a splash of olive oil).

Emily let us all personalize our own fish (which happened to be tilapia, on this night, but you could use any thin white fish, or even halibut–which you’d have to cook longer). So here’s the fish:

IMG_3917

And here are all the fixings:

IMG_3918

Emily started out but laying out a large piece of parchment and lining it with a few slices of lemon:

IMG_3919

Then she put her fish on top:

IMG_3920

You season that with some salt and pepper and then pile on your fixings. In Emily’s case, that included parsley, cilantro, dill, chives, jalapenos and cherry tomatoes:

IMG_3921

Clearly Emily is proud of her work (as her friends and neighbors look on):

IMG_3922

But she’s not done! On goes a drizzle of good white wine (the Sauvignon Blanc we were drinking, in fact):

IMG_3923

(Note: I did once attempt fish en papillote years ago–like 2004–and positively drenched the fish in white wine, which disintegrated the packet and caused the whole thing to break apart. Don’t do that!)

Then a drizzle of olive oil:

IMG_3924

After which, it’s time to seal your packet. Emily will show you how in this video:

Pretty easy, right?

Then everyone else takes a turn and you have a tray lined with sealed packets:

IMG_3929

Into a 400 degree oven they go, and 15 to 20 minutes later…they’re done! (You can check for doneness by feeling around or just opening yours up and looking. If it’s cooked, the fish will be opaque.)

Just before it’s time to eat, dress your salad:

IMG_3931

Then pass out the papillotes:

IMG_3932

Unwrapping your own creation is like unwrapping a gift that you made for yourself. I mean look at this:

IMG_3933

The most incredible part is how good it tastes. Never mind how easy it was to make, how simple it was to cook; those flavors all seep into the fish and the results are truly spectacular. The fish is moist and herbaceous and acidic from the wine and lemon juice. In fact, I could see this being great with rice, to catch those extra juices.

So thank you, Emily, for a wonderful dinner and for teaching me how to cook fish for a crowd.

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Cooking, How-To, Recipes, Seafood

  • http://www.facebook.com/lorialeary Lori Leary

    You can put a little par-cooked couscous underneath the fish before sealing the packet. It soaks up the juices and is so delicious.

  • hely fell

    Thanks ffor the entire
    information you have given here to impart knowledge amongst us?
    best fishing
    line