Fish & Healthy Eating
After the blowout of the holidays, the beginning of a new year is the traditional time to start eating healthier meals. Steamed fish is one of the easiest (and tastiest) of healthy options, especially when cooked in a parchment-paper wrapper.Â
- 2 large or 3 small leeks
- 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 boneless salmon fillet portions, 3-4 oz. each
- 2 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
- 4 Tbsp. lemon juice or dry white wine
- Â¼ tsp. salt, or more to taste
- Â¼ tsp. fresh-ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 2 sprigs curly or flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Slice the white portion of the leeks crosswise into 1/4" sections. Separate the sections into rings, and rinse them thoroughly in cold water to remove any soil and grit. Drain them thoroughly, and transfer them to a skillet. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and cook until the leeks are wilted and very soft (about 5 minutes). Remove them from the heat, and set them aside to cool slightly.
- Remove the salmon portions from their packaging, and check them with your fingertips for any pin bones, which hide in the thickest part of the fillet, just above the midline. If you find any, pull them with tweezers or a pair of scrupulously cleaned needle-nose pliers. Wipe away any stray scales with a sheet of paper towel, and set the salmon aside.
- Heat your oven to 400Â°F.Â Cut four pieces of parchment paper from your roll, each 16" to 18" long. Fold the pieces in half, and cut each one into a large heart shape. Set the four hearts on your counter. Divide the leeks between them, making a small mound of leeks on one side of each heart.
- Mash the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with the roasted garlic, and spread it over the salmon fillets. Transfer one fillet to each piece of parchment, nestling it into the mound of leeks. Drizzle each fillet with a tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine. Season the fillets with salt and pepper, then sprinkle them with the chopped parsley.
- Fold the empty side of the first heart so it covers the seasoned salmon, and its edge lines up with the opposite edge of the heart. Starting at the top,Â fold the edges overÂ once and then twice, overlapping them roughly 1/4" each time, so that a 2" portion of the edge is now sealed. Repeat the process for another 2" of the edge, and continue until you reach the narrow end of the heart. Twist that narrow end to seal the bottom of the package, and fold it under the fillet. Place the entire bundle of fish and parchment on a baking sheet.
- Repeat this process with the three remaining fillets. Slide the baking sheet into your preheated oven. Bake for 12-13 minutes, until the parchment is puffy and browned. Carefully open the end of one of the packages (be careful to avoid the hot steam as it escapes) and test the thickest part of the fillet with the tip of a paring knife. If it's firm and only barely translucent, the salmon is ready. Otherwise, return the sheet to your oven for another minute or two.
- Arrange one portion per person on a plate, with your choice of grain and vegetable side dishes. To serve, carefully slit open the top of each package and fold it back, revealing the salmon and letting out a cloud of fragrant steam. Serve immediately.
- The same technique can be used with any fish, or indeed any especially delicate ingredient. The herbs, liquids or spices you include in the parchment parcel combine with the cooking juices of the main ingredient to make a light and flavorful sauce.
- With fish, a good rule of thumb is to allow 10 minutes of baking time for every inch of thickness. If you've incorporated a significant quantity of aromatic vegetables or other ingredients into the package, you may need to add a few extra minutes.
- Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours of cooking, toÂ maintain food safety.