Tuesday, May 21, 2013

blue marlin, in a bag, on the beach

Cooking something en papillotte means that you encase it in a wrapping of parchment and essentially steam it in its own juices. Just recently, blue marlin caught that morning in the waters off the south coast of Sri Lanka and baked with a piquant combination of Maldivian dried fish, pickled onions, aubergine, burnt lime, tomatoes, black olives, capers and herbs. This recipe can be made with a wide number of fish, as long as the fillets are the same size and thickness; try tilefish, halibut, cod, haddock, salmon, or sea bass.
Blue Marlin en papillotte with tomatoes, olives and a bit of Sri Lanka
Serves 4

4 (150 gram) marlin fillets (1 inch thick), skinned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, halved
a small handful of capers
1 medium onion sliced thinly and pickled in the caper brine
1/2 tsp local masala
8 wedges of grilled lime
8 baby aubergines, halved and roasted in olive oil
2 tblsp unsalted butter, cut into bits
8 leaves of basil
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 220°c. Cut four 12-by-15-inch sheets of parchment paper (or foil)
Fold each sheet crosswise in half to crease, and then unfold. Season fish with salt, pepper and a pinch of the masala and put 1 fillet to the right of the crease on each sheet. Top each fillet with the diced tomato, one quarter of the capers and olives, one quarter each of butter and the basil
Working with one package at a time, fold left half of parchment over fillet. Starting at one corner of crease, fold edge of parchment over in triangles (each fold should overlap previous one), following a semicircular path around fillet, smoothing out folds as you go and tucking last fold under to seal papillotte completely.
Heat a large baking sheet in oven for 5 minutes. Put the papillotte on hot baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes.
To serve, transfer packets to four plates; with a knife, slit top of each packet and tear it to expose fish (use caution: steam will escape). Slide fish and sauce onto plates and discard paper.