Fish and Prawns en Papillote (and a discourse on tarragon).

It is hard to get nice fish sometimes here in the middle of the Great Southern.  We usually get Nile perch (previously frozen) from Zimbabwe, or Smoked unknown species claiming to be cod from South Africa, and very rarely any of the really nice fish Australian waters have to offer.  Possibly this is because the ocean is so feckin far away  further than Africa it seems).  So when I saw Woollies had one last piece of Barramundi I grabbed it and pondered what to do with it. I could not just fry it,  I am on a diet and no fried foods is the first rule.  Here is an idea I have wanted to try for a long time.  Cooking en papillote.  The fish fillet was not very big, so I decided to add a small handful of prawns.  Prawns are probably the best value seafood available here in the midst of the Great Nothingness. I buy tailless shelled uncooked frozen prawn meat and consider it a bargain at less than $20 a kilo.  There’s a dozen meals in a 1kg bag.  The prawns, as well as being Good For You,  are succulent, firm and tasty.  As it turns out they were nicer than the fish, but it was still bloody good.

Fish and Prawns en papillote

Fish and Prawns en papillote

Fish and Prawns en Papillote

  •  A fillet of good white flaky fish;
  • a handful of frozen shelled prawns;
  • 1 tablespoon ‘Weightwatchers’ sour cream ( yes – I know!)
  • Garlic, garlic and more garlic , minced
  • a sprinkle of freshly ground salt and pepper
  • a pinch of mixed herbs
  • a TINY pinch of tarragon*
  • a dash of bitters
  •  a splash of Chinese fish sauce
  •  a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 spring onion finely chopped.
  • a handful of whole baby beans
  • a slice of red capsicum, chopped
  • a spray of olive oil.
  1. Preheat the oven or barbecue to 180.
  2. Rub the fish with salt, pepper and garlic
  3. Put the spring onions and capsicum in the centre of a sheet of baking parchment and place the fish on top. Sprinkle lemon juice on it.
  4. Spray a small pan with oil, quickly sauté  vegetables, prawns , garlic. Not for long – just enough to coat them with garlic and get them warm.
  5. turn off the heat, add the fish sauce and bitters, stir them in, then add sour cream, stir again and pour it all over the fish.
  6. Wrap the parcel in one of the many ways described on the Webbernet.   Beats me how I did it: it worked, but it was ugly. That’s why the photo shows the meal unwrapped.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes and serve.

* A word about Tarragon, the Dragon Herb:   When I first grew and used tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa) I disliked it immensely. I thought it had an unpleasant taste and worse aroma.  I could not see why it was considered to be THE herb for fish.  I abandoned it after the first use.  Later someone smarter told me the secret was in minimal use.  Tarragon should add an unidentifiable hint of flavour to the dish in which it is used.  If someone other than a highly qualified Chef can sniff the dish and say “Tarragon!” then you have used too much.  That being so, I rarely use it at all but like Angostura Bitters, it adds a certain je ne sais quois and I don’t quite know what it is.   I can’t tell the difference between French and Russian tarragon, or even how to obtain one in preference to the other. I don’t even know which,  if either, I  have; it could be some other even more inferior variety.   I am told French is best.


About Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.
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