Class 21-Basa-swai en papillotte

6 02 2009

Actually, this week’s dish was Bar à la Normande, or Sea Bass Normandy which is sea bass with mushrooms and cream.  However, we were chatting about our “en papillotte” recipe for next week, and discussing which fish would substitute well for what we couldn’t locate locally.  We’re so wide-spread that item availability is a laughable subject.  I’m still hunting the elusive veal bones.  Back to the story at hand, I completely neglected to look at the schedule and double check.  I happily did up a fish I was unfamiliar with (this class is encouraging us to try new varieties and do some cutting) in a foil pouch according to a recipe from LCB Complete.  Then I started reading other members posts about their dishes…but they all cooked something different than I did…  Aw…PIFFLE!  I cooked the wrong dish!!  So…here’s a sneak peek at next week’s “en papillotte” dish.  Next week I’ll be doing the rewind.  I’ll get this schedule thing one of these days! LOL!!

Basa-swai…  It may be sold as basa, swai, or perhaps even tra.  Basa has been raised in cages in the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam for decades, thereby proving its value as a sustainable fish.  A white, tender, mild-flavored fish, it is similar to catfish and often referred to as Vietnamese Catfish, yet it’s not of the same species as catfish.


The recipe I followed called for a quantity of fresh thinly sliced fennel to be sauteed in butter for 25 minutes.  While that was going on, we needed to cut a teardrop shaped from folded parchment or foil.  I chose foil this time.


The recipe called for the raw sea bass to be placed on top of a few fresh basil leaves, then topped with the fennel.  I did it in reverse.  I wanted to see the fresh basil sprig on top of the fish.  As I gathered the basil, I wondered how many of my classmates were picking fresh basil…in their living room?


Next, we fold up the edges to create a tightly sealed foil (or parchment) pouch.  This is quite similar to what I do when we’re camping.  I fill foil pouches with vegetables, seasonings, and a protein –  usually chicken or fish – and grill them.  If you do apply this technique over a barbecue grill or fire, double up the foil and make sure it’s the heavy duty stuff.


I found the cooking time was off a little for me.  Maybe it was because I folded the fillets in half.  It took easily twice as long as the recipe called for.  No big deal…we just sealed it back up and popped it back into the oven.


The aroma that came out of this little packet when it was opened was fabulous!  Oh my gosh.  I can’t wait to play with this some more!  I can think of all kinds of applications to do this with!  We had green and white plates.  I decided that Jasmine rice would be a lovely, additionally aromatic contrast with the fennel and basil.  Echoes of Thai…


We really enjoyed this dish.  The liquid in the cooking pouch was wonderful with the rice.  The fennel was really nice too.  We’d never used it on it’s own as a veggie…what a lovely touch!  The jasmine rice added it’s own notes and complemented the aromas of the fish and aromatic seasonings.  As I’ve already said, I’m interested in seeing what else I can do “en papillotte!”  Until the next time…which I believe will be Tilapia aux Almandes.  After last week’s experience, I’m subbing tilapia for the trout, and that’s tonight’s dinner.  Happy whisking!




3 responses

7 02 2009

I also found I cooked the fish for about 20 minutes and cooked the fennel only about 15 minutes. Your post was funny. I think the Jasmine rice is a nice pick for this.

7 02 2009

I can’t wait to make this dish and seeing how wonderful yours turned out, now I’m really excited. I love fish in parchment, not only is it delicous, there’s minimal cleanup!

7 02 2009

That is so beautiful! I’d love to come over and sample! Great job!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: