A week ago, I attended this food-bloggers’ event at Teurastamo in Helsinki.
Some time in between samples of mango sticky rice and difficult-to-eat-without-making-a-mess salad tacos, my friend and I were ambushed by an enthusiastic sales rep for a parchment/baking paper company. She asked us if we had ever considered using parchment paper for grilling. No we had not. Then she suggested cooking fish in parchment paper, but not in the oven, as you normally would with “en papillotte”. She said you could make a little bag out of the paper and place it in a small amount of boiling water to cook the fish inside. That sounds nice, I thought.
The following day, at my usual gym, I was lounging in the infrared sauna, leafing through some random fitness mag (the real reasons I go to the gym), and a recipe of perch cooked in a parchment paper bag, in water, caught my eye. Steamed fish in avocado sauce, or something to that effect. “Cook the fish for 8 minutes”. I made a mental note.
Perch is a very common, delicious sweet water fish found in most of the many lakes in Finland. I’ve even ice-fished some up north myself, in Lapland years ago. They’re amazing just fried with butter when they’re fresh. The best Finnish fish are definitely perch and the slightly more expensive pike-perch. Both would actually work for what I was about to do…
The other day, I saw some nice little skinless perch fillets on sale at my local shop. And come Friday, I was ready to try this “sort of en papillote” thing.
- 7 skinless perch fillets
- black pepper
- Peruvian pepper
- olive oil
For the sauce:
- 1 and a half ripe avocados
- the juice of half a lemon
- a handful of flat-leaf parsley
- a bit of water, if it looks too thick
I took 7 little fillets in total and threw some salt on them. I rolled them up and placed them next to each other in the middle of a baking sheet of parchment paper. I was quite liberal with the salt. Then I gathered the edges of the paper together and sealed my little bag with a big old paper clip.
I put some water in a sauce pan and got it boiling. Then I placed my paper bag in the pan and put a lid over it. I let it boil away for 8 minutes.
While the fish was cooking, I made a nice avocado sauce with 1 and a half avocados, the juice of half a lemon and a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley. Just blend. Add water if you’re not happy with the immediate texture.
When the fish was done, I got the bag out of the pan. I immediately opened the parchment bag and fished the lovely little fish rolls out, one by one.
I plated them with the avocado sauce on the side and sprinkled some freshly ground black and Peruvian pepper on top. The Peruvian pepper really does wonders for the balance of this delicate fish dish. I also went a little Jamie Oliver on it, splashing some olive oil over the whole thing.
I ate it all up, rather quickly. On their own, the fish fillets might have been a little too salty, but frankly, with the freshness of the avocado sauce, they were just right. A nice glass of Chablis, and I was a happy gal.
I had a few perch fillets left over, so I fried them on a pan with butter. Yummy.