salmon in orange thyme glaze en papillote

fish on friday
notes from maggie's farm

For a lot of people, there really are too many fish in the sea. I used to be one of those people.  I was certain I could never like fish. As a child, I'd had fish, lots of times, in fact.  In sticks.  From a box.  Mrs. Paul's.  And forgive me Mrs. Paul, but I'm not wild about what you do with fish.  

Yet I really wanted to like fish.  It was so good for you. Good for your heart, your joints, your skin. Good for your eyes, good for your mood, and more.  So, with the desire to find a way to incorporate more fish into our diets, but without the holding-our-noses, drowning the offenders in ketchup, and gulping down our glass of milk after each bite which was, for my brother and I, the standard routine upon being presented with a plate of sticks, I tried fish prepared differently.  Like crunchy, breaded or battered fried fish.  Or baked, topped with butter and bacon.  Sauteed, with almonds, or a cream sauce, or both.  All very, very good.  What isn't good with batter, butter, bacon or cream?  But I faced a dilemma.  I wanted to eat fish because it was good for me.  Batter, butter, bacon, and cream?  Not so good for me.  So I played around, as I am wont to do, with steaming, and healthy omissions and additions, and landed upon the charm.  I cooked it in.........paper!

Cooking en papillote, is a classic french technique for preparing food wrapped in parchment paper to retain moisture without added fat, and to infuse with added flavor.  It's a very healthy cooking method, and encourages the items sealed in the parchment packet to lend their flavors to each other. You can cook with added herbs, garlic, onions, leeks, glazes, splashes of wine or broth, tomatoes, peppers, spices and seasonings, as well as vegetables.  Bonus: preparing an entire meal in a single packet is fast, convenient and easy on cleanup.

Par-cooking (steaming, sauteing or parboiling) firm vegetables, and/or slicing them thinly, ensures complete cooking, as the time it takes to properly cook fish en papillote is often brief; too brief to cook some vegetables, like beets, squash, fennel, and onions, thoroughly. Tender vegetables, such as asparagus, peas, tomatoes, thinly sliced peppers and mushrooms, can be included without par-cooking. Previously considered a specialty item, parchment is now found in most supermarkets.

salmon in orange thyme glaze en papillote
 with baby fennel and summer squashes

for each individual packet,

2 sheets of parchment paper, about 10 inches square
one four to six ounce fish steak or fillet (we've used 1and 1/2 inch fresh wild sockeye salmon steaks, bone in, however boneless fillets work just as well.  Reduce the cooking time accordingly, due to the difference in thicknesses, allowing approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness)

1 cup thinly sliced mixed summer squashes

1 baby fennel bulb, shaved

2T from maggie's farm orange thyme glaze, or glaze or your choosing
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
optional garnish-- chopped fennel frond leaves, orange slices
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Upon square bottom sheet of parchment, scatter squash and shaved fennel.  Lay fish fillet or steak atop.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle glaze over fish and vegetables. Cover with top layer of parchment, folding each bottom and top side together to create a packet.

Bake for 14 minutes (adjusting for thickness, if necessary). Remove from oven, clip top of packet with scissors, and tear open to release steam.  Carefully transfer to plate, (or perhaps eat it right out of the packet if you're dining al fresco) Correct seasonings, and serve.


Superfoods we've used

Wild Salmon
High in inflammation-fighting omega-3s, wild red or sockeye salmon (canned or fillet) is an excellent low-mercury alternative to canned solid tuna, which can be high in the toxic metal. For more information, including how salmon lowers diabetes risk, benefits cardiovascular health, improves mood and cognition, and more visit The World's Healthiest Foods
Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Thymol, which is named after the herb itself, has been found to protect and significantly increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes and other cell structures. In particular, the amount of dha (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes was increased after dietary supplementation with thyme. Thyme also contains a variety of flavonoids, and increase thyme's antioxidant capacity. An excellent source of iron and manganese, a very good source of calcium and a good source of dietary fiber.
Fennel is a low calorie source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and a powerful antioxidant. Notes for its beneficial effects on digestion, it is always used to treat coughs, especially in children. Fennel boasts high levels of vitamin c, and powerful antioxidants that help maintain a healthy immune system. High in fiber that is essential for digestive health, fennel is also rich in potassium, a mineral which is essential in lowering blood pressure.
Although all fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin c, oranges offer the most readily available of supply. At only 60 calories, the orange also boasts some 170 cancer-fighting phytochemicals and 60 flavonoids, as well as its ability to reduce inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and asthma. One orange daily will also help combat diabetes and obesity, and its flavonoid, hesperetin, and the compound herperidin lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Try zesting the orange's peel over roasted vegetables to enhance flavor-- the peel contains limonene, which may ward off skin cancer.

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Source: United States Department of Agriculture,


  1. Thank you for the nice words.

  2. you know I think you hung the moon, don't you? xo.

  3. Looks super delicious! I've always wanted to try to cook fish this way. Maybe one of these days I will brave enough to try it. PS The orange thyme glaze sounds amazing!!

  4. It is way easy and now my favorite way. I think the steam must trap a lot of the flavor without adding fat. A touch of garlic or chiles or onions does so well in these packets, too. (I'll try to save a jar of that glaze for when you make it to Austin some day)


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