Fish and easy don’t feel like two words that would go together unless it’s about peeling back the top off of a can of tuna. But Top Chef Canada judge and restauranteur Janet Zuccarini makes some convincing points for this Halibut In Parchment recipe.
”This method of baking fish in a parchment paper pouch is one of the easiest, healthiest ways of cooking,” she says. “As the fish bakes, it steams in its own flavouring – the fresh herbs, juicy tomatoes, briny olives and salty pungent capers. It allows all these ingredients to sing for themselves, without manipulation. Plus, it looks extra fancy and special to eat. My guests love getting their own parchment present.”
Say it together: “Lets not be intimidated by cooking fish!!”
”Although some people are intimidated when cooking fish, I personally feel that it’s one of the most delicious, protein-dense foods to eat,” says the founder and CEO of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group, with restaurants in Toronto and Los Angeles. ”I do try to moderate my intake because of the mercury in fish, but give me a piece of branzino any day of the week and I’m a happy camper!”
Her tip: Practice of course, but choose easy recipes, like the one below. ”This is the perfect foolproof recipe to get anyone started with fish. Despite how it looks, it could not be easier.” She points to the parchment paper as a way to guarantee flavour and that the fish cooks evenly. No flipping or checking required. “My fiancée also pointed out that this method doesn’t stink up the house as much as stove-top fish cooking.”
Recipe: Halibut In Parchment
You can also substitute the halibut for sole, if you like.
Makes 4 servings.
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp capers, drained
- 2 tbsp pitted kalamata olives,
- Handful of mixed fresh herbs (Zuccarini uses basil)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning fish
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste + extra for seasoning fish
- 4 fillets of wild halibut or sole
- 4 tsp unsalted butter or unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 12-inch squares of unbleached parchment
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- In a bowl, mix together tomatoes, capers, olives and herbs. Set aside.
- Arrange each fillet onto a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle fish with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
- Divide the tomato mixture and top each fillet evenly. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil.
- Now to wrap the fish. For each fillet, bring the two opposite sides of the parchment together and fold like the top of a paper bag, until it is tight to the fish. Twist the open ends so it looks like the wrapping of hard candy. Repeat for each piece of fish.
- Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
- Transfer each packet to a plate. Use caution when opening, as the steam will be very hot.
- Serve as desired.
More about Zuccarini
For health-minded Zuccarini, eating healthy on the go is about taking it in stride, especially when you look at food all day. “It’s all about the 80/20 rule for me: 80 per cent of the time, I cook healthy and make healthy choices; and the other 20 per cent, anything goes,“ says the award-winning, multi-restaurant owner and entrepreneur. “This allows me to enjoy my favourite foods in moderation while eating healthy at the same time. Additionally, being in the restaurant industry, I need that flexibility in my life.”