I often have very mediocre results when cooking fish (consider it my very own kitchen nemesis). But I was inspired by Faith's review of Emeril's Fish Provencal, which seemed foolproof in its simplicity. That recipe gets cooked on the grill, however, and I wanted something easy to pop in our oven. Inspiration, thy name is foil packets. This is really a template for any type of baked fish. I used cod, but you could just as easily go with halibut, tilapia, salmon, or whatever looks good and fresh at the fish counter. Closing everything up in a packet steams the fish and vegetables while keeping them moist.
I love this dish with baby spinach and cherry tomatoes leftover from salads during the week, but you could really use any combination of "Greens + Veggies + Herbs". You could go Asian with some bok choy, soy sauce, and ginger; Indian with peas, cauliflower, and curry powder; or Greek with some olives, spinach, and za'atar.
You wind up with a lot of juices in the foil packet, so open it carefully to avoid making a mess. Scoop out the fish and vegetables with a slotted spatula and then spoon some of the juices over top. A crusty piece of bread on the side and a glass of wine makes this a super fast yet fancy weeknight meal.
Baked Fish, Spinach, and Tomatoes in Foil Packets
1 pound fish fillets, about 1-inch thick
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
1 quarter red onion, thinly sliced
20 or so cherry tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 lemon, cut into 2 wedges
Salt and pepper
Olive oil or butter
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Check the fish over and remove any pin bones. Divide it into two equal portions.
Lay out two sheets of aluminum foil, each about 12-14 inches long. Pile a large handful of baby spinach leaves in the middle of each piece of foil. Lay one fish fillet on each bed of spinach. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Lay a few slices of onion over the top of each fillet and scatter the cherry tomatoes on and around the fish. Lay two sprigs of thyme over top. Give each packet a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil (or a pat of butter).
Fold the sides of the foil inwards around the fish. Then fold in the top and bottom of the foil and pinch them closed, creating a neat package. Set them side-by-side on a baking sheet and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the fish is opaque.
Open the packets carefully to avoid spilling the juices. Eat straight from the packets or transfer to a plate with a slotted spatula. Spoon some of the juices over top. Eat immediately.
This post was originally published 09/09/08
(Images: Emma Christensen)