I find fish a difficult ingredient. It starts by getting good, fresh fish, because fish that isn’t fresh is not tasty. They’ll probably not sell you fish that is spoiled, but the texture of most fishes gets a bit odd and mushy when it starts to get older, it starts to get a bit smelly (fresh fish should smell of the sea, not of fish) and the flavour declines. Then there is sustainability, I don’t want to be part of emptying the sea of all its fish, and lots of farmed fish isn’t very sustainable either (food, environment, antibiotics, etc). So I only choose fish with an MSC or ASC certification, or fish that is approved by VISwijzer. It should also be available, and affordable. And then you have to cook it well to make it tasty, which is quite difficult. So I often end up with a small piece of salmon.
Usually I just fry my salmon, so that it gets crispy on the outside and soft at the inside. But I became a bit bored with that, so I went to look for another method. And I found it in the en papilote method. En papilote basically is French for “in paper”, but it sounds a lot fancier (which is a way to make your food more posh without much effort/money). You wrap the food and place it in the oven, where it gently steams until it is cooked through. Because you don’t add any extra fat it is a healthy way of cooking something, and you keep in all the flavours as well. You can make a papillote from baking paper, but you have to fold it right to make sure you keep all the steam trapped. Using aluminium foil is much easier.
Cooking salmon this way makes it melt in the mouth tender and very moist. You can keep it very simple (the way I like it) by seasoning the salmon only with some salt (pepper is optional, I don’t like pepper on my salmon), but you could also season it with garlic, thyme and honey, or with dill and mustard. You could even make it more of a meal by adding a bed of vegetables and (precooked) slices of potato and a splash of wine to generate more steam, but I haven’t tried that myself. I like to make this with a big piece of salmon, eat some of it for dinner and keep the rest to use in other meals.
Salmon en papillote (serves 2 with leftovers, otherwise 4 persons)
Adapted from Damn Delicious
500 g salmon (in 1 piece)
salt and pepper to taste
Let the salmon come to room temperature, this will ensure an even cooking. Preheat the oven to 190C.
Take a piece of aluminium foil that is large enough to wrap the salmon in. Season the foil, place the salmon on top, then season the top of the salmon. Wrap the foil around the salmon, making sure it is steam-tight. Place the package on a baking tray or in a baking tin, if it does leak (which sometimes happens, even when you wrap it well) you just have to wash the baking tray and you don’t have to clean your whole oven. Place in the oven and bake for about 15-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of your salmon). Serve immediately, taking care of escaping hot steam when opening the package. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for a maximum of 3 days.