I first made fish fillets en papillote during a French cooking class many years ago, but I haven’t repeated that recipe ever since. It was later on, when I spotted the whole deboned trout at the store that I remembered another recipe from a book I was reading (it might have been French Women Don’t Get Fat, but my memory is failing me at the moment) involving a whole fish en papillote. Trout is one of the more popular fish in Romania, and I really like it, but the bones make it a little difficult to eat at times, so I am always pleased when I can find it already de-boned. One of the jokes about Romanians is that we use ‘fish’ for all the fish, but contrary to popular belief, we do refer to some by name: trout and mackerel mostly though 🙂 The reason why we mostly use ‘fish’ (in my opinion at least) is because most of the time there isn’t a choice. When fishermen come through the village with freshly caught fish they yell ‘hai la peste’ (‘come get fish’) and they usually only have one kind of fish that is in season in the river, and since I don’t believe they know its name, it remains nameless ‘fish’. When I was a kid, one of the men tried to convince me one fish was a ‘princess fish’ since its scales were slightly golden, but as far as I know that’s not really a proper fish name 🙂 We also have quite a few days per year when we’re supposed to eat fish for religious reasons and some of these days fall during the winter. When I was a child, the stores did try to stock up fish, but it was all frozen mackerel. Again, you were going to the store to buy ‘fish’ because really you could only get what they had. Disclaimer: this may not apply to the cities by the Danube or the Black Sea, but I’ve never lived in one. Nowadays, I believe there is more variety. I even spotted frozen fish sticks at the supermarket once, and even frozen salmon once. However, since trout is farmed readily in our area, whenever I ask for fish, my mom just gets a few whole trouts for me 😉
Recipe notes: I am a big fan of dill and I think it pairs very well with fish, but you are welcome to use your own preferred herb(s) and seasoning! I serve one trout as two servings with sides, but some people consider the whole fish as one serving. Traditionally, en papillote refers to parchment paper, but since I didn’t have any I used aluminum foil, which as a bonus it folds much easier! Also, feel free to chop off the head if the eyes creep you out 🙂
Ingredients (1-2 servings):
- 1 whole trout (preferably deboned)
- 2 Tb chopped dill
- 3 scallions chopped, or 1 -2 Tb chopped onion or shallot
- 1 – 2 Tb olive oil
- 1 – 2 Tb white wine (or lemon juice, sherry, etc)
- a few lemon slices
- salt and pepper
- foil or parchment paper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place your paper or foil in a baking dish. Oil the foil and place the fish on top. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the fish with the dill, onion, and lemon slices.
Fold the fish. Rub the top with some oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the wine.
Carefully, make the foil into a pouch for the fish and fold the edges tightly, making sure there are no leaks.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. Open the pouch very carefully. I usually poke it with a fork first to release some of the steam before I fully open it. Portion and serve!
We served this with this delicious pickled fennel and heirloom tomato salad and some fingerling potatoes with bacon and green onions. This is a very fast dish to make and it always turns out great! Hope you give it a try 😉