Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia Child's 100th Birthday -- Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomatoes: Fast Food!

Not spending the summer in St. Paul, I don't have any of my Julia books on the shelf....And it's Julia's 100th birthday!  I shipped all of the ones I needed to work on the soup cookbook and I brought my own personal cookbook, but the whole library cannot come to Colorado.  Julia's books sit in Minnesota: 

One bookcase of cookbooks
So to celebrate Julia's 100th birthday (along with everyone else in the world), I had to come up with something on the web.  Salmon en Papillote with Shallots and Tomatoes seemed perfect.   Since I had salmon the freezer.   And I was alone.  Fish is perfect for one.

One.  Singular sensation:
First place the salmon filet on the parchment paper on a schmear of butter
While grilled salmon is the standard summer prep in the U.S., I'm here to tell you that you just might enjoy wrapping that little piece of fish up in parchment paper and throwing it in the oven.  Almost feels like a little craft project going on.  The oven is not on long enough to heat up the kitchen. The resulting fillet is tender, toothsome, done perfectly, and seasoned elegantly.  And if you don't pour a loving glass of Pinot Noir or even a Syrah to go along with, I'll be unhappy.  I will haunt you.  See below for the recipe that's faster than calling for pizza.  Quicker than driving through the drive-through.  By the time you set the table and sauté some spinach, dinner is D-O-N-E.  If you're still set on grilling, you could probably use the same recipe for the grill, switching foil for the paper and going the Girl Scout route.

Thanks, Julia.   I know you're enjoying the kitchen that never gets hot, where feet never hurt, European and American measurements are the same,  knives are forever sharp, tupperware bottoms and tops always match, and watched pots do boil.  God speed.

Season with salt and pepper.  Top with shallots, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

An aside...My favorite Julia Child recipe is French Bread.  Really.   A story for another day.

Wrap up and pin or staple as I did.  Bake at 425 degrees F about 8 minutes.  Et voila!

The fish recipe I used is from this book, but I found it here:

Jacques' method for wrapping the fish in paper includes leaving a hole, inserting a straw, and blowing up the paper "balloon" before baking.  I went with Julia and even changed that.  As long as you get the paper packet sealed well, you'll be fine.

Julia’s Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomato
serves 1

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft (Cut this down to 1tsp)
1 skinless salmon fillet, 6 to 8 ounces
Salt and freshly ground white pepper  (I used black pepper)
1 tablespoon very finely minced shallots (or scallions) (Used minced red onion.)
1/2 cup diced fresh tomato garnish
Whole leaves of flat-leaf parsley, about a dozen  (I added a couple of thyme sprigs.)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Smear the butter in the very center of a piece of parchment paper cut to 15"x20"
3. Season each side of the salmon with a big pinch of salt and several grinds
of pepper, and lay the salmon, its most attractive side up, on the buttered
area of the paper.
4. Mix the minced shallots and tomato together and spread on top of the
salmon fillet. Scatter the parsley leaves over and around the fish.
5. Lift the shorter (15-inch) sides of the parchment so the edges meet right
above the salmon, like a tent. Fold over several times, then fold the sides
together. Crimp the folds tightly with your fingers, or use several pins at
the end to seal the package completely.  (I stapled the paper.)
6. Set the package on the cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes for a fillet less
than an inch thick, or 10 minutes for a thick fillet 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick.
7. To serve, carefully transfer the package to a dinner plate, remove the pins
if you have used them, and simply unfold or cut the parchment open. If
you’d rather remove the package before eating, cut or tear the paper
alongside the fillet, and slide the fish right onto the plate.

Just cut open.
The meal.
 Since this sounded wonderfully suited to a bed of sautéed spinach, I took care of that
while the salmon cooked in the oven.  One pound of fresh spinach will cook down to one cup of cooked spinach.  I think I cooked about 3 ounces of fresh spinach for me.  I stirred in some hunks of garlic at the end, but started with a little crushed red pepper in the olive oil.  Do as you like.  This, along with a small piece of buttered whole wheat bread, rounded out the meal.  Along with the wine, of course.
Ready for its close-up.  Done, but oh-so-tender.  Just perfect.  Just Julia.
  Cook's Note:   Whole Foods in Colorado Springs sells their gorgeous wild salmon frozen in individual pieces for four bucks and change.  I guess they'd rather freeze it than throw it away.  This salmon is luscious.  I throw it in a covered soup pot on the front porch for 30 minutes or so (summertime) and it's unthawed.   I have also cooked it stone-cold-frozen on a very hot grill indeed.
more julia for fun

Sing a new song; buy some parchment paper,


  1. I love fish in papillote. It's a fun way of eating fish. Yours looks so lovely on that beautiful blue plate. Thank goodness for anniversaries!

  2. I like fish in paper, too. Tender,juicy--easy. I love those blue


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