Remember in elementary school when we learned that folding a piece of paper in half and cutting half a heart shape along the crease would create a perfectly symmetrical heart? (Remember when we also ate lunch with sporks? But that’s another story.)
Well, today we’re using skills cultivated in the first grade—the hearts, not the sporks—to create a super spiffy, fancy-looking meal starring one of my favorite foods ever: salmon. Rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and high quality protein, and most importantly, flavor. Yum.
Specifically, we will be making salmon in parchment paper, better known as salmon en papillote if you’re fancy. So you know what we’re calling it.
The first time I had salmon en papillote was at my grandparents’ house last winter, and it was soooo delicious. I loved that my grandpa put a slice of lemon on top of the fish before he wrapped it up, and ever since then whenever I’ve thought about making it myself I knew that lemon slices would definitely be involved. There’s something so pleasing about that little burst of yellow!
The other day as I was Youtube binging on Chef John’s channel Food Wishes (he demonstrates how to make certain requested foods while also cracking jokes—luuuv it), I stumbled upon this video. And after I watched that, I was like IT IS TIME TO MAKETH THE SALMON.
I seasoned mine with just olive oil, salt, pepper, some fresh dill from our modest, little garden, and of course a lemon slice. Nothing else needed. The steam that collects inside the parchment as the salmon cooks leaves your fish juicy and flavorful!
It’s a super quick dinner to make (15 minutes in the oven), and it looks beautiful (it’s the lemon). Don’t tell your guests, but despite its fancy appearance it’s really quite simple.
Here’s how you prep the parchment (you can also check out Chef John’s video for another step-by-step):
Start by cutting sheets of parchment about 18 inches long, one sheet per serving of salmon. I recommend using scissors because I can never tear parchment paper evenly. That could just be a Molly thing, though.
Fold the sheets in half widthwise (hamburger style, anyone?)
Use scissors to cut a large heart shape and unfold.
Lightly spread olive oil all over the heart on both sides until it is completely coated.
Place salmon fillet on the left half of the heart. Add all of your seasoning, and then fold the other half of the heart over top.
Starting at the top of the heart, pinch both halves together and fold about a two-inch-long section toward you. Make sure the fold is tight by running your finger along the crease.
Fold your way around the edge of the heart, slightly overlapping each fold and creasing tightly. These folds can be longer or shorter than the first fold.
When you get to the end, make several tight folds on top of one another to seal the parchment tightly. You should end up with a little corner hanging off the end; fold it under. I know it looks precarious, but your parchment will stay closed, I promise!
Place on a baking sheet and into a preheated 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes and voila! Fancy pants salmon en papillote. When you first pull it out, the parchment will be all puffed up, and it looks awesome. Unfortunately it starts to deflate right away, but I tried to snap a quick picture.
Chef John served his salmon in the parchment, but I decided to take mine out. It’s up to you! Impress your next dinner guests with a truly impressive—and deceptively easy—meal. Enjoy!
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Salmon en Papillote
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Prep time: 10 min. Cook time: 15 min. in oven + 5 min. on counter Total time: 30 min.
4 sheets Parchment paper cut into heart shape (see post for preparation instructions)
4 6-8oz. salmon fillets
Few sprigs fresh dill
½ lemon, sliced into four circles
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
2. Spread 1 sheet of heart shaped parchment paper on counter. Lightly spread olive oil on both sides of parchment, front and back, until completely coated.
3. Place one salmon fillet on left side of heart. Drizzle fillet with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dill to your liking. Top with a lemon slice.
4. Fold heart up according to instructions in post and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fillets and parchment.
5. Once all fillets are folded up and on the baking sheet (you might need more than one baking sheet), cook in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before opening and enjoying.