Baking fish in paper is an all-around great technique: the fish steams in its own juices and whatever seasonings you’ve added, so it’s low in fat and high in flavor, and it’s a gentle way to handle the most delicate fish. Add did we mention cleanup is easy?
Sole en Papillote
8 sole fillets, 6 oz. each, skin removed
Sea salt and ground pepper
12 thin slices fennel, plus 4 Tbs. roughly chopped fronds
16 thin lemon slices
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parlsey
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper, each 12 by 15 inches. Bring short sides of 1 sheet together, folding sheet in half, and crease. Unfold sheet and put a fillet to one side of crease. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 3 fennel slices, 2 lemon slices and 1 sprig each thyme and parsley. Lay another fillet on top. Season again with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil. Top with 2 more lemon slices, 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds, and 1 Tbs. fennel fronds. Bring uncovered side of parchment over fish and, starting at one end of crease, fold edges of parchment paper together in small overlapping triangles until package is completely sealed. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 3 more packages.
Place pouches on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes. To serve, place each pouch on a dinner plate, and let dinner guests open their own servings. Serves 4.
Variation: For a tasty flavor variation, swap out fennel for 2 cups baby spinach leaves, divided evenly among the pouches. Increase amount of parsley to 2 Tbs. chopped per pouch and substitute 1 Tbs. capers for the thyme. Proceed with recipe as described.