I’ve been interning at some food jobs lately – chase that dream! – and I’ve been taking home HEAPS of leftovers. Some of these leftovers are in the form of raw ingredients, and you know how I love repurposing ingredients. On this particular day, I scored a box of vegetables, and with spring upon us, I thought it would be a great idea to showcase the freshness of these vegetables – let’s STEAM THE SUCKAS!
Now a lot of people seem to think that steam=boring. And many times, when it’s badly applied – with great power comes great responsibility – it can be bland and un-delicious. We like delicious. There is something actually subtly magical about when you steam your food. If the food is fresh and of great quality, it actually brings out a natural sweetness that is present in great produce. This is where the phrase ‘simple is best’ can really shine.
But on to our little baggies of goodness. Fish en papillote – which is really just a fancy way of saying fish in paper – is a french technique of wrapping everything up so your food is steamed in its own juices. You can add any flavours or ingredients that you want, but I was inspired by this recipe and so added somewhat asian flavours to my parcel.
Fish en Papillote with Asian Flavours
Fish fillet of your choice – I used defrosted hoki because it’s convenient and I like hoki. Skin on.
Vegetables of your choice – I used green beans, mushrooms, yellow squash, brocollini
Light Soy sauce
Sesame Seed oil
Lime wedges, to serve
Preheat your oven to 180C. Then finely chop up that holy trinity of Asian flavour – garlic, ginger, chilli. I actually keep my ginger in the freezer – great way to keep them on hand, so I just use a fine grater and grate it. I finely chopped my garlic, but on hindsight, crushing them might have been a better idea. Because it only steams for 8 minutes or so – 10, max for the size of my portions – the garlic was still a little bit, well, garlicky by the time I opened those parcels. They were delicious, but left me with a strong urge to reach for those mints. You have been warned.
Then tear out a piece of baking paper – my rule of thumb is to have the filling be a third of the width and the height – lay it out on a baking sheet, and start spreading some of your garlic, ginger, and chilli on the bottom. If you’re having trouble with the proportions, just imagine your paper divided into tic-tac-toe 9 portions and just work in that middle square/rectangle.
Then build your parcel.
I added layers of veggies, seasoned them – I used some porcini salt for extra mushroom flavour and cause I had them – and then added my fish fillet over the top.
I then finished it with more garlic, chilli, sesame seeds and ginger, added some pepper, a splash of soy and sesame seed oil, then proceeded to wrap the parcel.
Start with the short ends and roll them down gently, like you would a paper bag with a sandwich. Then tuck the two long ends under your parcel and you’re done!
It might be a bit finicky at first, especially if you’re like me and overfill the darn things. Just remember that if you’re in doubt, just err on the side of a larger piece of paper until you’re comfortable with it.
After all your little parcels are wrapped up, just pop them into the oven till the bags are puffed and golden. Depending on how tightly you wrap the bags they may not really puff, but you can definitely see the bag turn brown. If you’re using a more delicate fish fillet, take them out to rest when the bags are a light brown, or if you’re using a firmer fillet like hoki, you can wait till your bags are a darker brown. Either way, mine took about 8 minutes and they were all perfectly cooked.
Then simply put them into your serving plates – use a fish flip because the bags leak/break sometimes – and snip the seam in the middle. The guests can tear them open at the table to reveal their fresh delicious dinner! Or you can open the bag for them, but I like a bit of theatre in my dinners.
How do you like to use up leftover vegetables?