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Fish in Parchment

I serve these fish parcels just as they are, so people can open them up at the table. The steam billows out and the aroma hits diners smack in the face. It’s really theatrical, and so much fun.

I love the colors and flavors of this dish. The black olives and basil add a salty, herbal tang, although the overall effect is surprisingly delicate.–Bryn Williams

LC Better Late than Never? Note

There’s a single point of controversy in this eminently versatile, really quite customizable, otherwise foolproof fish in parchment recipe. And that’s when to add the basil. Slip it into the parcel prior to cooking and your guests will be wooed by its licorice-like fragrance the moment they slit their parcels-although they may also be confronted with a potentially soggy basil leaf or three clinging to their sole. The alternative is to thinly slice or tear the basil and pass it on the side for guests to shower over the sole after the packets have been slit open, an approach that appreciates aesthetics over aroma. Suit yourself, whether you follow the recipe below or simply use it as a blueprint.

Fish in Parchment with Zucchini Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 summer squash, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1/4-inch thick)
  • 1 green zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1/4-inch thick)
  • 2 ounces black olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 fillets lemon sole (or other mild, delicate white fish, such as flounder), each skinned and cut into 4 portions
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons white wine

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil, each one measuring close to a 12-inch-by-12-inch square.
  • 2. Place the scallion, summer squash, green zucchini, black olives, and basil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the olive oil, and mix well.
  • 3. Divide the vegetables among the pieces of parchment paper or foil, placing a small but heaping mound in the center of each square.
  • 4. Place three sole fillets on each mound, and fold each portion in half to prevent it from overcooking. Season the sole with salt and pepper. Divide the butter evenly among the mounds and dribble a scant tablespoon of wine over each. Fold the paper or foil over the sole to create sealed parcels (fold in opposite sides at the same time, then repeat with the two remaining sides. Seal the parcels tightly by folding over the edges and crimping them together. Be sure to leave a little space inside the parcels for the steam.
  • 5. Place the parcels on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the hot oven until the sole is cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes. (If using foil, it may take a few minutes longer.) Serve the parcels at once, placing them on plates and offering each guest a sharp knife to slit the parcels-and an equally sharp warning about not holding their faces too near the steam-puffed parcels as they set about making said slit.
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