Detox Dinner

And so the question is, what does one have for dinner the night after she swears off eating for a year? The answer: Fish in Parchment Paper. We had a ton of vegetables left over from the shoot (if anyone needs to borrow an onion, I’m your lady) so Andy sliced them up, arranged them on a cutting board, then asked the girls to top their flounder filets with whatever topping they wanted. We’ve written about these before (“fish presents“) but I was reminded of how flexible the recipe is — we never make it the same way twice. Last time we wrote about them, we went in an Asian direction with bok choy and sesame oil. This time we went in a more classic (if slightly purply) direction: purple peppers, purple potatoes, shallots, asparagus, haricot verts, kale, lemon slices, olive oil and sea salt.

Fish in Parchment Paper, A Refresher Course

You’ll need one square of parchment paper or aluminum foil per filet. (Again, we used flounder, but you can use any fish you want: sole, salmon, tilapia, sea bass, snapper, you can’t go wrong.) Lay the fish on the paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with thin slices of lemon and shallots.

Layer on your desired toppings (see photo above) drizzle with olive oil, then add herbs (parsley, chives, cilantro), a squeeze of lemon, and a final dash of salt.

To “wrap the presents,” lift up the sides of the parchment paper until they meet above the fish. Turn down a few times and  fold the ends under the fish — picture the way the deli guy wraps a sandwich — creating a seal so the steam doesn’t escape. Slide the packets onto a cookie sheet, and bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes. (It’s hard to overcook the fish when steaming it like this.) Remove from oven and serve on plates. Be careful when unwrapping, though: steam is hot.

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I must do this. I’ll bet if I made this dinner twice a week within a month my cholesterol would drop and I’d feel like a new person.


This looks so delicious. definitely will try this for the kids….maybe the letting them make their own fish-purse would help w/ the eating portion of a fish dinner. I’ll probably do sea bass with purple oinions, diced fingerling potatoes, scallions, olive oil, roasted garlic cloves, and sea salt. Yummy. Also do u think the parchment paper cooking method would work well with other types of protein besides fish? Obviously steamed steak would be pretty awful, but a properly steamed chicken breast coated with spices and herbs could probably be pretty decent.


We tried this tonight — the kids and I switched between calling these fish presents and fish packages. Regardless of our inconsistency, it was a hit. It’s amazing that 1) letting kids compile the ingredients and 2) giving a food a clever name will do to make the meal even more appetizing.

This will be a family fave for a while — thanks!


Not sure if you look at comments on such old posts, but here goes … I tried this last night. It would have been great, but the lemon slices left a very VERY bitter taste that pretty much destroyed the rest of the flavors. I am a lemon fan, so it was not just me reacting to the taste of lemon — it was definitely a bitter experience, not a sour one. Any suggestions?

Elizabeth Batte

Jenny & Andy,

I have to say that this is my favorite recipe from your book! I have made it so many different ingredients, but the method is flawless and the fish presents are perfect every time. Thanks again!!