Cooking the Channel: Kelsey's Steamed Salmon Pouches
Like everyone in January, I'm trying to eat just a little bit healthier. (Literally everyone -- people were fighting over the last bag of spinach at the my grocery store yesterday.) But as a food lover, that doesn't mean I want to go bland, so I was excited to try Kelsey's Asian-inspired, pouch-steamed salmon with ginger, peppers and baby bok choy. Here's how to make it, plus tips on cooking en papillote.
"En papillote" translates to "in paper," and it's a basic technique used to steam quick-cooking foods, like fish and vegetables. To cook something en papillote, you cut everything to a size that'll cook in about the same time (for instance, carrots take longer to cook than squash, so cut them smaller.) Add flavoring and just a little bit of liquid, then seal it in a parchment-paper pouch (foil works, too) coated with oil and bake in a high-temperature oven.
Kelsey uses Asian flavors, but you can channel the cuisine of your choice -- go French with parsley, tarragon and white wine atop asparagus and chopped shallots. ( Get more combination ideas here.)
The vibrant flavors in this dish come from the "marinade" you sprinkle over the veggies and herbs just before steaming. Kelsey combines ginger, orange zest and juice (I used a clementine), rice vinegar, soy sauce and fragrant toasted sesame oil.
Peppers also add high-impact flavor to the finished dish. Kelsey went with a red pepper, but I used an orange pepper I had on hand.
Assembling the packets can be a little tricky, but it's simple once you get the hang of it. Cut a piece of parchment paper that's big enough for your filling to fit on one half with about a 1-inch border. (Kelsey uses squares, but I found it easier to fold up when I cut paper into a heart shape.) Fold your shape in half to create a crease in the middle, then unfold and layer the vegetables and fish on one side. Fold the top side back over and make tiny folds along the edge, folding each one into the next to create an airtight seal.
Another perk of this dish: It's quick and easy. Once the pouches are rolled, it takes just 8 to 10 minutes in the oven. The packets are done when they're puffed on top.
The verdict? The salmon was flaky, the veggies tender and the ginger and sesame perfumed the whole dish. Try Kelsey's Sesame-Ginger Salmon tonight!
Get hundreds more healthy ideas and techniques from our Fresh Start: Healthy Eating page.