1 (6-ounce) firm-fleshed white-fish fillet, such as halibut, cod, or haddock (the fillet should be between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches thick)
1tablespoonextra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1bay leaf, cut in half (optional)
Fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, tarragon, or chervil (optional)
1tablespoon unsalted butter
3 thin lemon slices
1 tablespoondry white wine or water
Steaming fish in parchment paper is a healthy, tasty way to cook it, and it’s so simple you can have it ready in less than 30 minutes. Impress dinner guests by presenting them with their very own parchment pouches. As you cut through the parchment, a puff of steam rises. Oohs and ahs ensue.
What to buy: Parchment paper can be purchased at most grocery stores.
Game plan: You can prepare the parchment package ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 6 hours. Then cook as directed.
1Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
2Draw out a large piece of parchment paper (about 17 by 11 inches) and, with one of the longer edges closest you, fold it in half from left to right. Using scissors, cut out a large heart shape.
3Place the fish in the center of one half of the parchment heart. (The heart should be large enough that there is at least a 1-1/2-inch border around the fillet.)
4Set the parchment heart on a baking sheet. Drizzle the fish with half of the olive oil, rub the oil all over the fillet, and season with salt and pepper.
5Lay half of the bay leaf and a few sprigs of herbs (if using) on top of the fish. Break the butter into little pieces and arrange them on top of the herbs.
6Place the lemon slices over everything and drizzle with the remaining oil.
7Fold the parchment heart over to cover the fish. (The edges of the heart should line up.) Starting at the rounded end, crimp the edges together, folding them over themselves and leaving the last two inches at the pointed end unfolded. Slightly tilt the package up and pour in the wine or water. Finish crimping the edges, then twist the pointed end around once and fold the “tail” under.
8Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes for a 3/4-inch-thick fillet or 12 minutes for a 1- to 1-1/4-inch-thick fillet.
9Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the parchment package to a dinner plate. Serve immediately, cutting into the parchment tableside using scissors or a knife.