In Paper

August 25, 2009


All Wrapped Up

This tidy little parcel is a filet of halibut with green chutney. Its simple and stark parchment packaging is a surprising contrast to the intense flavours wrapped up inside – it’s fresh, slightly spicy, tangy and salty-sweet. Other than how startlingly delicious this is, what I love about it is that you can do all the work ahead of time, and then tuck packets neatly into the fridge until it’s time for dinner. They bake in about 15 minutes.

Serves 4 happy people: 2 Mikes, a Kat and me!

4 – 5 oz filets of fresh halibut

4 – 8″ x 12″ pieces of parchment

2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic

1/2 jalepeno

1 teaspoon agave

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 fresh lime, juiced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground*

1 bunch cilantro, most of the stems chopped off

1 bunch mint, leaves only

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut

Haul out your food processor to make the chutney. I have chopped this by hand with beautiful results, but who has time for that on a weeknight? First, put the ginger, garlic and jalepeno into the bowl of your food processor and pulse off and on until you have a very chunky mixture. Add the agave, sea salt, lime juice, cilantro and mint and process briefly, until a rough chutney forms. It should be quite textural, don’t over process – see photo below. Turn the chutney into a medium-sized bowl and mix in the coconut. To wrap en papillote: lay each filet of halibut in the centre of the parchment and pile the chutney evenly over the four filets. Now, I think I know what you might be thinking at this point, and that’s “Holy crap. There is way too much chutney here. What is she, crazy?” But, no. The chutney, pressed on top of the halibut, is going to be about the same thickness. This is what you want, it’s good. In fact, you might even want more, you’re crazy that way. So now, working with one filet at a time, pull up the long sides of parchment to meet high in the centre and fold neatly over and over until it’s pressed snugly-but-not-too-tightly against the halibut. Tuck the ends underneath and place on a baking sheet. Repeat. Your fourth one will look much prettier than your first one. If you want, ’cause you’re kind of crazy, you can re-do it. Keep in the fridge until it’s almost time for dinner. Pre-heat your oven to 400º. Halibut is one of the fastest cooking fishes around, so take care not to over-bake, it will dry out quickly even though the chutney and parchment offer some moistness and insulation. Bake for about 15 minutes, it will depend on the thickness of your fish, but that will probably do. If you’re a stickler, you could stick in an instant-read thermometer, it should read 145º.

* This is important. Don’t go using some pre-ground cumin dust that is stashed away in your spice/junk drawer. Get some whole cumin seeds, heat up a frying pan and dry-roast over high until wisps of fragrant smoke begin to rise, shake to prevent scorching. Once cooled, crush or grind as best you can. I do a good amount at a time with a mortar and pestle, but you could also buzz it up in a clean coffee grinder or crush it with the bottom of a bowl on top of your counter. I prefer coarsely ground cumin, you don’t need to grind it to a fine, dusty powder. Unless you want to.



4 Responses to “In Paper”

  1. Kat said

    MMMM…. this is sooo good! can’t wait to try making it on my own. It truly is amazing! Thanks so much Dawne for always coming up with new and innovative ways to make things we eat “the same old way” all the time. 😉

  2. katie huitson said

    that chutney looks amazing!! can’t wait to try!!

  3. katie huitson said

    that chutney is ridiculous!! I’m going to make a vat of it and put it on EVERYTHING!! SOOO GOOD!! But oopsie…don’t accidentially touch your nose after taking the seeds out of the jalapenos…yeouch…

    • dawnegourley said

      Stupid delicious, right Katie? I cannot believe with your Mexperience that you touched your nose after seeding a jalapeno!

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