Food & Drink

How to Cook En Papillote


Cooking en papillote sounds awfully fancy, but it’s really just French speak for a super simple, classic technique you’ll want to use all the time once you learn just how easy it is. “En papillote” translates to “in parchment” — you literally wrap your meal in an envelope of parchment paper and let the steam do the cooking. The result is a moist, tender dish that is ready in just 10 minutes. And you can even serve it directly out of the paper used for cooking, meaning less dishes to clean too. Read on to learn the basics of this easy technique and get inspired with our recipe for Ginger-Soy Fish with Spinach and Mushrooms, plus a few other favorites from around the web! 

Cooking in parchment paper is one of my favorite techniques, because in addition to being downright easy, it’s both impressive and rustic-looking at the same time. Start with fish, shellfish, or chicken, then layer in veggies, and add flavorful herbs, citrus juices, and acidic components to flavor the dish. From white wine to soy sauce, tomatoes to mushrooms, the possibilities are pretty endless. The key is to layer everything right in the middle of your parchment paper, then fold and seal the packets completely to lock in the steam.

To help the parchment stay closed, try brushing a bit of egg white in between the folds–it acts like a glue! Then never open the parchment paper to check on the food…just cook according to the time specified in the recipe, and it’s done. One last tip: Substitute aluminum foil for the parchment, and you can cook your tasty packages directly on the grill.

Ginger-Soy Fish Steamed with Spinach & Mushrooms

2-6 oz. pieces of cod
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 handful of oyster or shitake mushrooms
2 pieces of parchment paper, about 16-inches wide each
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons of fresh minced ginger
A dash of red pepper flakes
1 egg white
A couple very thin slices of lime, for serving
A couple thinly sliced basil leaves, for serving​

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger. Cut the parchment paper, then fold the left and right sides of each piece of paper toward the center and crease well, leaving room in the middle for the ingredients. In the center of each piece of parchment, place a handful of spinach then the fish on top, and scatter the mushrooms around the edges. Pour the sauce over each serving size. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Fold the sides of each parchment in toward the center so they overlap slightly, then fold the top and bottom edges toward the center. Brush a little of the egg white under the top and bottom edges to help them seal shut. Transfer the packets to a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit 30 seconds, then open the pouches. Serve with lime slices and basil leaves on top. 

A few more recipe ideas using this easy technique:

Try the en papillote technique at home and share your photos with us! Instagram with #TheEverygirlCooks.