cod en papillote
thanks to ana in ottawa for your recommendations on my little blog - as you can see, i've got the 'read more...' working and hopefully will be adding photos soon - i'm trying to balance the geek inside me with the cook outside of me ...
in the meantime, blancs keeps recommending me to go to a 'proper' cooking school, i'm not sure whether it's because she doesn't want to be responsible for me or whether she would prefer if i stop harassing her with questions. either way, i'm going to stand firm on my artistic credentials and not go to any cookery school ~ i have relented to her in one aspect; i am willing to cook food that she has learnt in cookery classes ... how magnanimous of me.
with that in mind, today we embarked on cooking cod en papillote (her first dish from the excellent telva cookery course in madrid, spain). my first mission was to find out what the hell papillote is; first attempt revealed "a frilled paper cover used to decorate the bone end of a cooked chop or cutlet" ... hmm, interesting, but didn't seem to make all that much sense. my second attempt revealed an altogether more sensible definition "an oiled paper or foil wrapper in which certain foods are baked". papillote apparently gets its name from papillon (butterfly) due to the fact that the traditional cut of the parchment is in a heartshape. in my travels, i found an excellent description at http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art4541.asp ~ now this website calls itself the "voice of women", but i won't let that dampen my enthusiasm ... it is now the voice of steve aswell ...
cooking in envelope is an ancient way of preparing fish, layers of other materials would be used in the past, such as clay, salt (pescado a la sal) and leaves. the benefit is that the fish is protected from the direct heat and is thus more gently and evenly cooked. it is a combination of baking (the initial direct heat) and steaming (from the heated juices of fish and vegetables). contemporary techniques are most often with parchment, foil or lettuce. it is normal for the dish to be left intact and actually opened by the diner. as a technique it works best with shrimp and white meat or flaky / tender textured fish such as cod, snapper, whiting and salmon.
ingredients: cod, courgette, carrots, potatoes, oil, salt and pepper
the technique is amazingly simple; slice the potatotes finely and fry in oil until nearly browned. julienne the courgette and carrot (fine: 1.5cm 1.5cm x 1.5cm). whilst i had heard the term before, this was the first time that i got to julienne the old fashioned way (with a knife) ~ best style seems to be to block off the vegetable, cut to roughly four fingertips in length, slice and stack the slices together in order to dice (thanks to leiths techniques bible). saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes. oil the foil. place the potatoes in rows on the foil and put the fish on top. season as required. put the vegetables on top and seal. we used a very basic seal, simply rolling up all the edges. place in a pre-heated oven (170c) until it's cooked (approximately 15 minutes).
http://www.chefsselect.com/htm/jmrecipes/enpapillote.htm ~ seems to be the home of professional parchment paper; i surely couldn't have missed a reference to this!
this is a very robust cooking technique; it is possible to cook many dishes including chicken and potatoes ..