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Bags of flavour
  |  First Published: December 2013



Paper bag lunch? Hardly! This recipe is easy-peasy yet haute cuisine. Cooking fish inside a paper bag sounds at first to be a concept fraught with risk as to whether it would work or not, but it’s a gem.

What really happens is that the baking paper seals in the flavour and juices to keep the fish super moist yet perfectly flaky to your fork, thus avoiding that overcooked dry texture that makes a fish-dish more like take-away than dine-in.

Thai Curry Fish

In this recipe, you can substitute Thai Jungle curry paste for the yellow curry paste. The following quantities will serve four.

Ingredients

4 fish fillet (approx. 500g each)

4 pieces of baking paper, of sufficient size to enclose each fish fillet

2 tbsp Valcom Thai yellow curry paste

250g coconut cream

2 tbsp Squid brand fish sauce

5 tbsp coriander stems, roots and leaves, finely chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass

1 tbsp canola oil

Garnish

Roughly chopped coriander leaves

Packet fried noodles

Method

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.

In a small bowl, combine the curry paste, coconut cream, fish sauce, coriander, lemongrass and canola oil.

Lay the sheets of baking paper on a work surface and then lay a fillet of fish towards one end of each piece of the paper.

Divide the Thai curry mixture over each fillet of fish. Fold the baking paper over the fish and seal the edges. There are complicated ways of ensuring the parcel stays sealed, however the simplest way is to fold the edges of the parcel over twice and then staple every 5cm or so.

Place the fish parcels on a shallow baking tray and place in the oven for approximately 15 minutes (timing will depend on the thickness of the fish fillet).

To serve, carefully open the parcel as the steam inside can burn. Sprinkle the garnish of chopped coriander leaves and fried noodles over the top of the fish. The combination of textures with the crunch of the noodles and the softness of the fish are terrific.

You could also serve the Thai curry fish parcels with a side of steamed rice or vermicelli noodles.

Chermoula Fish

Chermoula is a garlic and coriander sauce used to flavour fish in North African cuisine. The chermoula can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use. The strength of the chilli in the chermoula can be tempered by removing and discarding the seeds and ribs of the chilli before processing.

The following quantities serve four.

Ingredients

4 fillets of fish (approx. 500g in size)

4 pieces of baking paper

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup coriander, leaves, stems and roots

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 large green chilli

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin

1tsp turmeric

2tsp paprika

1/4 cup lemon or lime juice

1 tomato, roughly chopped

Extra coriander leaves, for garnish

Method

Make the chermoula in a food processor: process the parsley, coriander, onion, garlic, chilli, cumin, turmeric, paprika, lemon or lime juice and tomato until smooth. If you are keeping the chermoula for a few days, spoon it into a container and cover with a little olive oil before chilling.

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.

Lay the sheets of baking paper on a work surface and place a fillet of fish on the end of each piece of paper.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the chermoula over the top of each fillet of fish. Seal the parcel as described in the previous recipe.

Place the parcels of chermoula coated fish fillets on a shallow baking tray and bake for approximately 15 minutes (timing will depend on the thickness of the fish fillet).

To serve, carefully open the fish parcel and sprinkle with the extra coriander leaves. You could also serve the chermoula fish parcels with a side of steamed rice or couscous.

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