Thursday, July 26, 2012

Halibut en Papillote with Thai Pesto

My cousin Yolanda Banks is an AMAZING cook.  She has her own cookbook called “Cooking for Your Man” and also her own website  Check her out when you get a chance!  Needless to say, I have plenty of people in my family who have some serious kitchen skills but I was blown away when she made steamed black cod with thai pesto for me and a friend of hers.  It was my first time having thai pesto and I was just itching to make it myself!  I put my own spin on the thai pesto by adding garlic, using olive oil, and making a few other modifications.

You’ll find a recipe that Yolanda has on her website for halibut with thai pesto but she actually cooks it on the stove.  Since I was so blown away by her steamed black cod from before, I decided to try this with halibut and use the same cooking technique.  En papillote is a French term that means “in parchment”.  This is also known as “al cartoccio” in Italian.

Halibut en Papillote with Thai Pesto
4 halibut fillets
1c basil
1c cilantro
½ c unsalted pistachios, shelled
1 garlic clove
Juice from 1 lime
Zest from 1 lime
1 tsp peeled ginger, roughly chopped
½ jalepeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp canned, pre-sliced lemongrass
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

For pesto: Starting with basil, add all ingredients (through olive oil) to food processor and process until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: You can find the canned, sliced lemongrass at whole foods.  Yes, I’m lazy :)  If you don’t want to use the canned lemongrass, then substitute it with one stalk of fresh lemongrass.

Place 2 pieces of parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Fold each piece of parchment paper in half to create a crease and then unfold.

 Place 2 halibut fillets on one half of each piece of parchment paper.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add a large dollop (~2 tbsp) of thai pesto on top of each fillet.  Fold the open sections of the parchment paper over one another to create a packet.  Do the same for the other piece of parchment paper.  Ensure that you have a good seal so the fish will steam properly.

Tip: For a detailed tutorial on how to create a parchment packet, visit the Reynolds website at

Place the baking sheet and packets into the oven and roast for 12 mins at 400F.  Remove from oven and let set for 5 mins. 

Once you cook fish en papillote, you’ll realize why it is one of my favorite ways to cook fish.  It is almost impossible to overcook it.  The fish turns out so moist and flaky that it practically falls apart.  That being said, be sure to use a spatula to move fish from the packet to a plate so that it doesn’t fall apart on you (I learned that the hard way). 

For a quick and easy meal, you can add frozen or fresh veggies to the packet and place the fish on top.  I used frozen haircot verts (french green beans), because that is what I had but you could use snap peas, carrots, broccoli, or really any vegetable you have a taste for.  

I hope you enjoy this pesto!  It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  You can use it in pastas, as a dip, or on chicken.  It is very versatile so it’s well worth making extra whenever you make it. 

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