Sunday, June 20, 2004

Is My Blog Burning? Red Plum and Snapper en Papillote

My first ever IMMB! This time it is the fish edition hosted by Wena. I must admit I approached this event with some reluctance. As I’ve said before, I normally do not eat seafood. So, not only was this something I was not looking forward to eating, but it was something that I had not the slightest idea how to prepare.

I started out by browsing Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. When I came across his recipe for “Red Snapper or other fillets in Packages”, I knew this was the technique for me. I wouldn’t have to deal with heads, tails and bones, and it was supposedly foolproof. I also liked the idea that I could prepare a single serving and that I could be a little creative with what I included in the packet with the fish.

At the market, I browsed for a few minutes before committing myself to making a purchase. Someone was cleaning the case, so the front was flipped open with nothing between me and the fish. I didn’t smell anything. This was a good sign (or so I’ve read). The prices were a little shocking, though. Seems like in years gone by fish was considered an inexpensive alternative to meat, but here I was looking at red snapper fillets for $17.99 a pound! There were a number of other choices that were much less expensive, but knowing nothing about fish I decided to stick with the name I knew from Mark Bittman’s recipe. I finally took the plunge and picked my fish.

While in the store, I had noticed that the plums looked really nice. I thought this might be a good seasonal ingredient to include in my packet. I then decided I liked the idea of sweet and hot, so I would include some jalapeno pepper and onion. I wasn’t sure what else (if anything) I should include, so I went to Google and entered plum jalapeno onion so that I could browse other recipes with these ingredients and see what else was used. I found a number of salsa recipes with these ingredients and after reviewing them, I decided to add lime juice and cilantro to my recipe.

Putting the packet together took no time at all. Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I made two packets. I was afraid my plum and jalapeno concoction might be too strange, so I had a fall-back packet with onions, peppers, tomato, white wine, and spinach. It turned out that I much preferred the fish with the plum. The plum became very soft and sweet and the heat of the jalapeno complemented it perfectly. I am not yet completely won over to fish, but let’s just say my curiosity has been aroused.

Red Plum and Snapper en Papillote

½ red snapper fillet (about 6 oz)
½ lime
salt and pepper
1 red plum cut into ¼-inch wedges
several thin wedges of onion (vertical slices)
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
several sprigs of cilantro

Preheat oven to 450° F. Score the skin on the fillet then sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Squeeze lime over both sides of fillet. Tear off a sheet of parchment which is large enough when folded in half to accommodate the fillet with some room to spare. Fold the parchment in half and trim the corners. Place it on a baking sheet and position the fillet near the fold. Arrange the plum and onion over the fillet, sprinkle with the diced jalapeno, and place the cilantro sprigs on top. Crimp the edges together to form a pouch with a little extra space inside. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and poke a hole in the packet. Allow the packet to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

ready to assemble my packet 

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