Green Curry Salmon En Pappillote

...salmon en papillote...

My knowledge of cooking techniques is actually pretty limited.  I usually only pan fry, stir-fry, bake, or fry my food.  There isn’t much in terms of fancy cooking techniques in my repertoire.  And it is even more evident ever since I started working at Colicchio & Son’s and seeing all the amazing and ingenuous people that work there.  Terms like “Sous Vide”, “Compressed Vegetables”, and “Celery Foam” are known to me, but will never happen in my kitchen.  I’m more scared of blowing things up rather then actually attempting to make fancy foods.  However, when I do come up with the courage to do some new technique, it becomes an all out exciting adventure.  And then when it is successful, you might as well call me the Chinese Wylie Dufresne…or not.  My self esteem is bordering the conceited line.  But, I am humble in life, I promise.  I know not what the blog world does to me.

“En Papillote” was probably the first time that I ever attempted a fancy cooking technique.  Actually, I take that back.  It was probably the second after a Salt Baked Fish.  For those who aren’t versed in the language of love, “En Papillote” is just French for “in parchment”.  When put into cooking context, it’s a dish where the food is cooked inside a package or pouch.  Essentially one is just steaming the food and creating a sauce out of it’s own juices, but it sounds so much more fancy in French, no?   Now, I was scared to attempt this technique in its traditional way.  The first time that I really made this was the fake way.  I used foil.  Although the box that that parchment came in said “safe for oven”, I just couldn’t come to terms with putting paper in an extremely hot oven.  The idea of starting a forest fire in my house didn’t seem like a very good one.

A couple of years ago, I finally built the courage to do an “En Papillote” the right way.  I took out my recyclable/bio-degradable hippy paper [I was living in Oregon], wrapped the salmon with all its goodness and watched it with a careful eye as it baked in my oven.  When 15 minutes was up, I put away the fire extinguisher and opened beautiful packets of creamy and fragrant salmon.  I love when things come together.  I realized through my culinary growth that foil is not a good substitute for this cooking method.  It was way too hot and overcooked the fish way too much.  Now I get why the French are so smart, they picked something that didn’t retain that much heat.

I learned this method of folding/shaping from Alton Brown.  Man, he is awesome.  He’s like Mr. Wizard meets Gordon Ramsey.  If you do the half heart, you won’t have to deal with edges unrolling and letting any of the steam out.  Nor will you have to do what I did the first time I used paper.  Staples.

...image by jessie kanelos...

Seafood tends to be the best thing for this cooking method.  It always comes out perfectly cooked and soaks in the flavor of the aromatics and liquids that are put into the packets.  Plus the awesome broth that comes from the steam is like pure ecstasy.  Enjoy ecstasy.

What was your first complicated cooking technique?  Please share in the comments.  I would love to hear them!


1 14oz can coconut milk

1 stalk lemon grass, beaten and sliced in 2 inch pieces

2 thai bird chili, minced [can use Serrano]

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1/2 cup onion, sliced thin

4 cloves garlic, minced

juice of one lime

zest of one lime

2 tsp fish sauce

1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, lightly packed

1/4 cup of veggie broth, chicken broth, or water

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of mixed julienne carrots and bamboo

4 8 oz. filet of salmon

4 large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper (you know, like what we used to do for Valentines in grade school where you folded the paper in half)


pre-heat oven to 375° f

mix all ingredients except carrots, bamboo, salmon, and parchment paper in a large mixing bowl

add salmon to sauce and marinate for at least 3 hours

layer carrots and bamboo in the center of the heart to one side of the fold, next the salmon fillet, and spoon 1 tbs of sauce over the fish

fold over the heart and begin folding the edges of the paper starting at the top of the heart/curve and working your way down to the point.

twist the bottom tip several times to ensure the package is sealed

bake packages for 15 to 20 minutes

open package very carefully and enjoy

~serves 4~


3 Responses to “Green Curry Salmon En Pappillote”

  1. 1 kimi
    August 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I’m going to have to try your recipe! I found it because I tried cooking “en papillote” last night, I sort of cheated because I used frozen vegetables and tossed them with a little bit of store bought mushroom sauce, put my thawed fish on top, and just sprinkled some nori gomi furikake on top of it all.

    I also bought some green curry sauce and was going to try cooking the fish with that tonight, but one of these days I’m going to have to try your recipe.

    Thank you for sharing it! And your fish looks delicious =)

  2. March 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    big fan of salmon and other seafood dishes, keep them coming.

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