4 years studying naturopathy indelibly imprinted the seemingly endless health virtues of the humble fish fillet on my brain.  The only problem was I had never been introduced to a piece of fish that was not battered and deep fried that didn’t make me gag!

I outed my loathing of all edible aquatic life forms in a class only to be scorned like cream-bun on the Biggest Loser.  How could a naturopath not love fish?

A fellow mature age student, Amanda, sidled up to me one day and furtively whispered the words that changed my life….. “my fussy five year old will eat salmon if I put it in baking paper, drown it in soy sauce, poke a garlic clove in it and then wrap it up like a birthday present ”.  

Challenge accepted!

I dropped past Aldi on the way home, let’s face it after years of projectile vomiting from even the smell of cooking fish I was not prepared to invest serious $ into an experiment with so little chance of success.

this is what my salmon looks like
My first ever attempt to eat salmon I cooked. So momentus the occasion I recorded it for posterity, well actually, for the paramedics if they needed to confirm my last meal.

I laid the fish on some baking paper, sprinkled liberally with tamari (wheat free soy sauce), crushed a garlic clove as taught by my Nonna, poked small pieces of it along the length of the fillet and then wrapped the baking paper up like a parcel-the-parcel.

10 fishy-smelling-free minutes later I opened the now browned paper, gingerly tasted a teeny-tiny morsel, and (cue angels singing), it was d.e.l.i.o.u.s..

Yep you got that right, not only was it edible, it was scrumptious….. ahhhhhh…..this must be what golfers’ experience with a hole-in-one.

What is even more interesting is my former “if it is not from a cow it’s not food” husband and I have started to become more adventurous with fish discovering a genuine love for the delicate flavour. In fact on the stove now is a fish curry of sorts bubbling away ready for my dinner.  It seems my journey-with-fish was how naturopaths describe introducing broccoli to a 3 year old – you’ve just gotta keep trying no matter how many times they throw it on the ceiling.

I’ve gotta share with you, for the sake of total honesty, I still very rarely order fish when eat out because if it is not perfectly fresh I do vomit just a little in my mouth. So what’s my recipe?  Well I challenge you to cook fish this week the way I first learnt it and hopefully everyone in your family will love it as much as mine.

Salmon En Papillote
Salmon En Papillote

Salmon En Papillote or ‘salmon cooked in paper’ for those of us who don’t speak french.

Per Person 1 fish fillet (try a strong tasting fish like salmon to truly appreciate how good at masking flavour this recipe is), a good dousing of tamari/soy sauce, I garlic clove, 1 knob ginger (optional), 1/2 lemon, splosh of extra virgin olive oil.

  • Lay a large piece of baking paper on your kitchen bench (not alfoil, not a chicken roasting bag, it must be baking paper).
  • Place your salmon fillet in the middle.
  • Check there are no pesky bones poking out and if you find one pull that sucker out.  If you are a MasterChef fan of course you will have the kitchen-tweezers ready for this eventuality.
  • Put small nicks and cuts along the meaty body of the salmon.
  • Take at least 1 garlic clove and squash it under the side of your knife, peal off the skin and throw away and slice the smelly clove roughly.
  • Skin a thumb-sized nob of ginger and slice roughly.
  • Stuff bits of ginger and garlic into those nicks you previously made.
  • Douse the fish in tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) or soy sauce (for those of you still blithely eating wheat – no judgement).
  • Hold up the 2 ends of the paper nestling little-fishy in the middle still on the bench.

    Hold 2 ends together
    Hold 2 ends together
  • Gradually fold/roll the two ends together down so you create a tightly wrapped parcel.
  • Fold/roll the sticky-out ends in towards the fish and then finish with the other side.
  • Pop your carefully rolled parcel in a
    folded salmon
    Fully wrapped like a parcel-the-parcel present.

    warmed oven on approx 180C/medium for approx 10-12 minutes.

  • While that’s in the oven put your water on boil and chop up a potato into small bits and place in salted boiling water.  On top of the boiling water add a steaming basket and cook your favourite green vegies.
  • When you take the fish out of the oven be careful opening the parcel as steam will flood out.  If you are serving this to bubbas pull out the bits of garlic and ginger.  Those pieces have really done their job in infusing flavour in to the flesh and can now be discarded.
  • Drain your vegies and mash your potato.  I don’t cook with dairy ‘cause otherwise I snore like a rhinoceros so I add extra virgin olive oil to transform my mash to creamy goodness.
  • Pop the fragrant morsel of fish on your mashed potato and throw your veggies on your plate. I always top my vegies with a teaspoon or so of raw extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Lemon on any food but especially vegetables helps make the iron content more absorbable – so important for women struggling with fatigue.
  • Or if you want to serve this the fancy-smancy french restaurant way keep the parcel closed and take it to the table on the plate. Diners do feel very compelled to utter exclamations of wonder when they open their own parcel – always good for the chef’s ego.

    salmon on plate
    Served “en papillote” a perennial crowd pleaser.

So why spend so much time talking about a recipe which I am sure for the average home cook sounds pretty basic?

When I talk to people about what they eat the vast majority don’t eat fish regularly; there always seems to be someone in the family who will stage a full scale riot if a piece of fish is dared placed on their dinner plate.  And for me it is very sad to hear that a whole family is missing out of all the incredibly beneficial nutrients in fish.

Fish has strong evidence behind it as being not only good for your heart, but also in fighting mild to moderate depression, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and the list goes on. All up this simple meal provides:

  • heart loving omega 3’s in the salmon and monounsaturated fats in the extra virgin olive oil
  • bowel loving and tummy filling fibre and nutrients in the vegies
  • dense in protein and healthy fats means it keeps you feeling full longer.

In fact I dare and double-dare you to reach for a chocolate when you are on the couch critiquing the efforts of those handsome boys on My Kitchen Rules after this meal.

Now on to a more serious matter…talking about MKR I don’t think the blonde dude looks at all like his cousin Thor, do you? Maybe if he took his shirt off?

For more heart healthy recipes check out these babies on the Heart Foundation’s site.  They even provide videos for step by step instruction.  http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/recipes/pages/videos.aspx

I’d love to swap a heart healthy recipe with you if you have a fail-safe fish dish?

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