Rainbow Fish to Rave About

They say that great things come in small packages. While Jon Hamm might disagree, I politely argue that this old adage is true when applied to a sackful of fish.

Fish en papillote, or fish in parchment paper, is a cooking method that I picked up on Day 8 of The 12 Days of Chrissymas, my Julie & Julia experience for work with Chrissy Teigen’s cooking blog, So Delushious. Chrissy’s version is to die for. It’s a melt-in-your-mouth flavor bomb full of spice and sesame oil that requires only some basic knife skills and a YouTube video on parchment folding. I was so inspired by this dish that I decided to try my hand at an original recipe based on whatever I had left in the refrigerator. 

So here it is—my fish en papillote with dog food and a half-eaten orange!

JK. Get these things to make Herb & Lemon Fish en Papillote with Rainbow Chard, plz & thnx:

  • 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
  • 5 Tbsp dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 3 Tbsp sliced olives
  • Chopped parsley, to taste
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 6-8 oz. filets of meatier fish—I used red snapper, but grouper, cod, or halibut could be good!
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed in a garlic press
  • A half of a shallot, chopped
  • 1 bunch Rainbow Chard, stems and leaves separated (You won't use the whole thing, so use it to sautée on the side!)
  • 1 zucchini, halved and then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

Confession: I get starstruck whenever I’m around rainbow chard because of its relative fame from the Food Network’s cooking competition, Chopped. This bunch of vibrant greens has a way of sneaking itself into a basket and then ending up in front of Padma Lakshmi as ice cream. It’s well-deserved, though. Rainbow chard is the vegetable that I’d be most intimidated to hang out with. I imagine that you would find it on a Sunday morning in a hole-in-the-wall brunch spot in Bushwick, speckled with remnants of glitter from the art installation rave that it attended on Saturday night. Regardless, its taste is pretty mild and it’s a cousin to beets, so maybe I’m just overreacting?

The most time-consuming part of this preparation is chopping the components of this fish parfait, so first preheat your oven to 425°F and then we’ll start with the garlic. Mince it as fine as you can or take the easy way out by using a garlic press. Then, the shallot needs to be chopped, which is more enjoyable than cutting an onion because it’s a really pretty shade of purple! 

Enter the chard, the beautiful chard. Separate the leaves from the stems. Chop the stems to roughly match the size of the aforementioned shallot bits. Separately, roll the leaves into a bunch and chiffonade that shit like the lady in this video.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be later on in the recipe.” -William Shakespeare

Cut the zucchini in half and then cut flat slices that look like the ones below. I found it easiest to chop off the round ends so that it rested flat on the cutting board, but still managed to nick my finger! Finally, slice a lemon into thin rounds without getting its juice into your bloody thumb. (Spoiler alert: It hurts!!)

Now we assemble. Cut the parchment paper into a butterfly shape big enough to accommodate your fish, like Chrissy did here. Drizzle olive oil on the paper, rub it in like you’re greasing up Fabio before a romance novel cover shoot, and then sprinkle the garlic, shallot, and rainbow chard stem confetti on top. Lay down the zucchini slices and crank salt and pepper overhead to prepare your fish for landing.

Pat your fish dry and lay it on down. Crank more salt and pepper, and then drizzle the fillet, whom I named Kathie Lee Gifford, with the white wine.

Then finish it off—top Kathie Lee with capers, olives, parsley and rosemary. Spread out the chiffonaded chard leaves, layer the lemon slices on top, and then season with a final crank of salt and pepper

Fold the parchment paper like Chrissy’s “random YouTube lady” so that it looks like an empanada and stick it in the oven on a baking sheet to cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, nurse your gushing thumb and hope that your dining company will appreciate some extra iron in their delicious meal.

Take it out of the oven. Open it. Eat it. Drink more wine. You won!


ANALYZE & DISCUSS:

Why do finger cuts bleed so much and then heal the next day like a two-faced bitch, as if nothing ever happened?