Fish en Papillote

4.50 from 54 votes
40 minutes
Jump To Recipe

This Mediterranean Fish en Papillote recipe captures all the classic flavors of that sunny region. A combination of ingredients, including juicy tomatoes, briny olives, tangy capers, fragrant garlic, olive oil, wine and refreshing lemon, is paired with fish. So much flavor all wrapped up in parchment paper parcels for a no-muss, no-fuss, healthy dinner!

Absolutely one of the best fish recipes I’ve ever tried. I used fresh tilapia fillets and it was just amazing.

Mediterranean Fish en Papillote opened to reveal baked fish with a piece of the fish on a fork.

But first…

What is en Papillote?

En papillote translates to “in paper,” typically parchment paper. When ingredients such as fish, seafood and vegetables are sealed in a parchment paper parcel with herbs or other seasonings, it creates an aromatic, moist heat where the protein cooks in its own juice and the juice from other ingredients.  Very little fat is required.  The method can also be used with other proteins such as chicken, but fish and seafood are most commonly used.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Adhering to your resolution to eat a more healthful diet is in the bag when you master cooking en papillote, a classic French cooking method that sounds fussier than it really is.  It’s the perfect way to prepare almost any Mediterranean fish recipe!

You’ll be amazed at how flaky and delicious fish can be when baked inside a parchment paper parcel with simple, flavor-packed ingredients.

This Fish en Papillote recipe with Mediterranean flair is:

  • Easy!
  • Mess-free!
  • Healthy!
  • So delicious!

Let’s make it!

Baked Mediterranean Fish en Papillote on parchment paper with a piece on antique fork.

How to Make Fish en Papillote:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this Mediterranean fish en papillote recipe, along with how to prep. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Mediterranean Fish en Papillote in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Fish Fillets: Almost any fish fillet will work in this Mediterranean fish recipe. I used barramundi but halibut, sea bass, cod, mahi-mahi, tilapia, and even salmon will work here.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Use cherry, grape, teardrop, or a combination. These small tomatoes are now available in a multitude of colors.
  • Dry White Wine: Use a dry white wine you enjoy drinking. NON-ALCOHOLIC SUBSTITUTION: Combine 1 teaspoon of lemon juice with 5 teaspoons of water or broth for a total of 2 tablespoons.
  • Kalamata Olives: Kalamata olives are almond-shaped and have a deep purple-brown hue. These olives are found on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. If using pitted Kalamata olives, check them anyway for pit fragments as they’re mechanically pitted.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Leave them out if you don’t care for anything spicy.
  • Capers: Capers are the green, unripened flower buds of the caper bush. You can find them in the pickled products section.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut two 18-inch (approximately) long pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half, then cut a half-circle, oval or heart shape. Open flat and place on a baking sheet.
  • Wash fish fillets and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and black pepper.
  • Place a fish fillet on one side of the parchment paper.
Piece of fish on parchment paper on rimmed sheet pan.
  • Top each fillet with equal amounts of tomatoes, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine and red pepper flakes. Top each fillet with a lemon slice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
  • Place the other half of the parchment paper over the fish and seal it.
    • FRENCH METHOD: Seal the edge, making small folds every 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch all the way around until it’s completely sealed.
    • CAROL METHOD: Fold the edges 3 to 4 times, ensure you have a good crease and then fold the corner 2 to 3 times. It seals and the packet will puff up as desired without the tedious work.
Folded parchment paper packets on rimmed sheet pan ready to be baked.
  • Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until parchment paper has puffed up and the fish is cooked.
Two baked parchment paper packages on rimmed sheet pan.
  • Transfer to a plate and, with scissors, cut into the top of the packet, being careful and aware of the hot steam that will escape.

That’s it! Mediterranean-inspired healthy fish en papillote goodness with over-the-top flavor! Lovely, flaky, perfectly cooked fish! And super easy clean-up!

Parchment paper packages opened to reveal baked fish.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • When cooking en papillote, a fair amount of liquid will be produced, so you don’t want to add more than what’s called for in this en papillote recipe.
  • As mentioned above, the French method for en papillote involves making tiny single folds all the way around the exterior of the parchment paper package. You can certainly do it that way, but it is time-consuming. I achieved the same seal and “puffing” of the parchment paper package by folding the paper but folding it in a single long fold and then folding it three more times.
  • When cooking fish, check it at the minimum cooking time to avoid overcooking.
Baked Mediterranean Fish en Papillote on parchment paper.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the disadvantage of en papillote?

There are two: You can’t place parchment paper on a grill or under the broiler. However, you can remedy this by using aluminum foil instead of paper for the grill. You can’t make en papillote in parchment paper too far ahead of time because the moisture will soak into the paper. You can remedy that by having all the ingredients prepped and ready to go, then assemble the parchment paper packages when you’re ready to bake.

What foods are cooked en papillote?

FISH: Cooking delicate fish fillets can be challenging as they tend to overcook, so en papillote is an ideal cooking technique for delicate fish as it helps retain texture and moisture. En papillote is commonly used to prepare white fish varieties like cod, halibut, or tilapia. However, it can also be used to cook meatier fish such as flounder, snapper, and salmon with excellent results.
CHICKEN: Thinly sliced chicken breasts (also known as cutlets) work well.
VEGETABLES: En papillote works well for vegetables as the steam enhances their flavors without overcooking them. Vegetables such as zucchini, asparagus, peas, or mushrooms are perfect candidates for this cooking technique.

How do you know when fish is cooked?

Fish is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Testing this fish en papillote recipe will require piercing the packet. To tell when fish is cooked without a thermometer (will require opening the packet):
–It will have an opaque color. Uncooked fish is shiny and translucent. When it’s done, the fish is opaque.
–It will flake easily with a fork. When fish is finished cooking, it’ll flake apart with a fork easily without any pushing or tugging. Overcooking fish will make it tough.

Baked Mediterranean Fish en Papillote on parchment paper with a piece on antique fork.

Storage:

  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through.

What to Serve with Fish en Papillote:

More great easy fish recipes you’ll love!

Get all my fish and seafood recipes at: Fish and Seafood Recipes – From A Chef’s Kitchen. Find more Mediterranean fish recipes at 30 Best Mediterranean Fish Recipes.

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Mediterranean Fish en Papillote opened to reveal baked fish with a piece of the fish on a fork.

Fish en Papillote

4.50 from 54 votes

Click to Rate!

By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Fish en Papillote captures all the classic flavors of the sunny region of the Mediterranean. A combination of ingredients, including juicy tomatoes, briny olives, tangy capers, fragrant garlic, olive oil, wine and refreshing lemon, is paired with fish. So much flavor all wrapped up in parchment paper parcels for a no-muss, no-fuss, healthy dinner!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Fish and Seafood
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 2
Calories 202 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 (6-ounce) white fish fillets - such as grouper, cod, barramundi, halibut or sea bass
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes - (1 cup) halved
  • 12 Kalamata olives - pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • Thin slices of red onion - to taste
  • Thin slices of red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - or to taste and tolerance
  • 2 lemon slices
  • Chopped fresh parsley - optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut two 18-inch (approximately) long pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half, then cut a half-circle, oval or heart-shaped. Open flat and place on a baking sheet.
  • Wash fish fillets and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and black pepper.
  • Place a fish fillet on one side of the parchment paper. Top each fillet with equal amounts of tomatoes, olives, capers, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine and red pepper flakes. Top each fillet with a lemon slice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
  • Place the other half of the parchment paper over the fish and seal it.
    FRENCH METHOD: Seal the edge, making small folds every 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch all the way around until it's completely sealed.
    CAROL METHOD: Fold the edges 3 to 4 times, ensure you have a good crease and then fold the corner 2 to 3 times. It seals and the packet will puff up as desired without the tedious work.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes or until parchment paper has puffed up and fish is cooked.
  • Transfer to a plate and with scissors, cut into the top of the packet, being careful and aware of the hot steam that will escape.

Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS:  This recipe works with almost any type of white fish.  Try tilapia, flounder, halibut, sea bass, mahi-mahi or barramundi.  Thicker fish fillets will require additional baking time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 611mg | Potassium: 344mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1244IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.50 from 54 votes (47 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




28 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    First a correction: 6 oz barramundi is about 35 grams of protein. A significant difference for those of us eating a higher protein diet. This was delicious; I did it almost exactly per instructions except I don’t stock Kalamata olives and I subbed green, which is a perfectly acceptable alternative for me. Also, the open white was a dry champagne and it worked well. We just had it for Thursday dinner, but it would be a great special occasion meal for guests.
    Next time, I will plan it as a dinner, not an on-the-fly meal. The reader who suggested the fennel made a believer of me. I also think shaved Brussels sprouts would add to the dish.
    Thanks.

    1. Thanks so very much and happy you love this recipe! Because of the recipe program I use, it autogenerates the nutritional information and I do have a disclaimer. Thanks for that information. Really appreciate your taking the time to come back and comment and rate.

  2. You’ve listed two methods for closure: the French method and the Carol method.

    I use a third method: a stapler I pull out of my desk drawer. Works great.

    I usually make a bed of cooked leek and fennel on which the fish sits, and include some thin slices of small, firm potatoes as well, usually arranged around the fish. Harder vegetables such as these need to be cooked nearly completely prior to including in the pouch, but they come out well. The fennel and leek I sauté in olive oil and the potatoes I cook in heavily salted water with lots of dried thyme or herbes de provence, then slice them when they’re ready.

    1. Hi, Ben, Thanks so much for your input! Using an office stapler would send the food safety folks into orbit. If it works for you, great! Love the combination of fennel, leeks and potatoes. I’m definitely up for that!! Thanks again and have a Happy New Year!

  3. 5 stars
    Instructions do not say when to add capers and olives but assuming everything should be in parchment so dumped it all in…..oh my beyond and DELICIOUS!!!! My husband who is picky said “Definitely to be added to rotation.” Thanks!

  4. Absolutely one of the best fish recipes I’ve ever tried. I used fresh tilapia fillets and it was just amazing.

      1. What is the best way to re-heat leftovers? Would it be best to place the cooked fish as is (in it’s parchment paper) in the fridge and then place back in the oven when you are ready to eat it? Thx

      2. Thanks for your question. I think the parchment paper would get pretty saturated. I would just take everything out of the paper package and place it in an oven-safe container. Cover with aluminum foil and reheat at no higher than 350 degrees until heated through–perhaps 15 minutes. How long depends on the amount of leftover fish. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  5. 5 stars
    I just discovered this dish and it’s divine! The red pepper flakes, capers, and wine combine to produce a delicious sauce.

    1. Thank you so very much! It does make a difference with all the ingredients are cooked together in a sealed pouch. The flavor has nowhere to go but into the food! Thank you again and glad you enjoyed!!!

  6. 5 stars
    I just discovered this dish and it’s divine! The red pepper flakes, capers, and wine combine to produce a delicious sauce.

    1. Hi, Carolyn, Yes, you should be able to assemble everything ahead of time. I’ve done it for clients but I didn’t wait too long before having them bake it off as the moisture from the fish and ingredients will soak into the parchment paper. It still bakes up nicely, though! Hope you enjoy and thanks for your great question!

      1. Hi, Kenneth, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, it will work. If you go back to my post under “How to Cook en Papillote,” I mention aluminum foil will work. You might need to cook just a bit longer as aluminum has a tendency to insulate so will take a bit longer for the heat to get through. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  7. Hi there and good morning! Just letting you know that I featured this recipe in my Deliciously Healthy Low-Carb Recipes round-up from last month. I hope a lot of my readers will come over here and check it out, great recipe!

  8. Much like Pam, I need to be reminded of this method every so often because it really is quite brilliant. I love it with the flavors you used here and I also love it with Asian flavors.