Tilapia Pernod in Papillote from Frankie’s Elegant Gourmet
What is en Papillote? Pronounced ah-pah-pee-yot, it’s a French term that refers to the method of cooking food in a sealed packet (paper or foil) so that it steams in its own juices (basically, cooking with steam). It will keep the food moist while using very little fat, though I think presentation is a big part of this method, too!
Really, everything about this method is a winner. Because it works well for delicate foods, such as fish, you can create any flavor profile you like using the ingredients you prefer or have on hand. Not only quick, easy, and fun to make, they’re a lot of fun to open! It’s like having a present to open at the dinner table. They’re great for small dinner parties and also for the grill. The packets can be made a few hours ahead and kept refrigerated.
En Papillote may sound a little intimidating, but it’s the perfect ‘go-to’ on a busy week night. Keeping a few cooking techniques like this one in your pocket is a fabulous way to be inspired to create new meals in your kitchen. When I was a young girl, my father would take us to a special seafood restaurant that made en papillote dishes. It made such an impression me that I learned to do it when I was young and continue to create fun and flavorful dishes today. Teaching your children this method will inspire creativity and hopefully a love of being in the kitchen with you.
I’d like to give a special thank you to Patrick Fleming for the photograph for this post, as well as for the video forGainesville Television Network (GTN).
1 T – Almond oil, or a little more
1 – Fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 – Red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 – Yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 – Shallots, thinly sliced
12 – Cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp – Toasted fennel seeds
8 T – Pernod
4 – Tilapia fillets
8 – Tarragon fronds, plus more for garnish (or use snipped chives)
4 T – Butter, divided
1 – Lemon, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut four sheets of parchment paper to 24” long (15”x24”). Fold in half, making a sharp crease. With a pencil, draw a half heart shape then cut it out. You will have a large heart. Brush almond oil around the center, leaving a 2” border for each of the four pieces of paper.
In a large bowl, toss together fennel slices, peppers, shallots, tomatoes, fennel seeds, and Pernod. Season liberally with salt and black pepper. Divide mixture into fourths.
On the right side of each sheet, lay out two Tarragon fronds and one-fourth of the vegetable mixture.
Smear one tablespoon butter on top of each of the tilapia fillets. Season with salt and black pepper then lay across the top of the vegetables.
Fold over the left side of the heart, matching the edges. Starting at the top of the heart, make a sharp 1/2” crease. Keep folding and sharply creasing all the way to the bottom and then twist at the ends to seal. Make sure packet is sealed tightly.
Place packets on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until packets are puffed and starting to turn a golden color.
Serve immediately, letting each person cut the center of their package open to reveal the food inside and release the aromatic steam.
Breathe deeply and indulge!