Parchment Paper Cooking – the hot trend – Arctic Char

Parchment Paper Cooking

Parchment paper cooking is the hottest trend this year.

The real name for this technique is en papillote. Translated it means cooking by means of moist heat in an enclosed packet. In English it is known as cooking in parchment paper (aluminum foil can be substituted). Cooking indoors or out, this method is perfect for cooking almost anything. The only consideration would be to cook in foil on the grill, and either foil or parchment in the oven. So many options it’s hard to know where to begin. Once you master this method, it will become an integral part of your go-to cooking techniques for nightly dinners. It is a one-pot meal solution to individual packets (great for children or dinner parties-perhaps with an ingredient alteration). Cooking in parchment keeps food moist, flavorful, and infused with flavor.

Tired of dry fish or chicken?

This method will bring your eaters to claim it is most succulent, moist fish or chicken they have ever eaten.

Similar to sous vide cooking, which is a slow-moist heat process, the food is contained in its own packet. Trapping the juices and moisture helps to create succulent fish, chicken or vegetables that are infused with flavor. Sous vide takes hours, this method is one that can be done on short notice. What you need to have on hand is parchment paper or aluminum foil (bags of parchment or foil are available as well). I prefer sheets to adjust the amount being cooked and to lay the ingredients flat. Bags are less easy to manage and limited by their size. Bags are fine for a single piece of chicken or fish, but if layering the fish on top of vegetables, a self-made packet is easier to manage.

How to create a packet from parchment

Cut the parchment to twice the size that you want to make the packet. The whole pan can be lined, as I did for this recipe, or you can cut the fish into serving size pieces and make individual packets. This method is a little more forgiving than baking or roasting due to the moisture being contained and the ingredients are less likely to dry out.

Is the seal tight enough to hold the liquid in?

Yes, if you make the crimping tight enough. If the crimping is too loose, the steam will escape. Place the food being cooked in the center of the parchment. Make sure the parchment is wide and long enough, to lock in the juices. Some recipes call for an egg wash to seal the edge of the parchment. This is not necessary. First of all most food is comprised of some amount of water and will create its own juice. Second, wine or liquid added is usually in relatively small quantity, and not meant to cause the ingredients to swim in the packet.

Start with a tight crimp, the food and juice will survive the cooking.


Additional recipes to try:

Parchment Baked Halibut from The Pescatarian and the Pig
Mediterranean Salmon in Parchment Paper from The Roasted Root
Parchment Paper Recipes that make Weeknight Dinners a Breeze from Southern Living

To top it off, if desired:

The recipe below was topped with a mayonnaise/lemon/herb sauce. By simply blending a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, adding a few squirts of lemon, and mixing in a teaspoon of dried herbs, you will have an extra bit of flavor. Drop a dollop on the fish before serving.

Parchment Paper Arctic Char

Serves: 4-6
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes


  • 2 fillets Arctic char (salmon can be substituted - allow appx 6 oz/170g per person)
  • 1 TBSP dried herbs (Italian, Herbes de Provence, or combination of marjoram, savory and thyme) (or several sprigs of fresh herbs)
  • 20 sun-dried tomatoes (jarred in olive oil)
  • 2 fl oz/60ml EVOO
  • 1 fl oz/30ml white wine
  • salt and pepper



Preheat oven to 350°F/175C.


Cut a piece of parchment twice the size of a sheet pan, allowing for overhang.


Lay it on the sheet pan.


Place the fish on the parchment.


Sprinkle with the herbs.


Drizzle the EVOO and white wine on the fish.


Season with freshly ground salt and pepper.


Place the sun-dried tomatoes on the fish (see photo above).


Fold the overhanging parchment paper in half over the fish.


Crease the fold and then crimp the edges of the parchment all the way around.


Bake for 20 minutes.


Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes before cutting open the paper.


Cut the top open carefully as to not get burned a the steam escapes.


Remove the sun-dried tomatoes (if they have charred too much to eat).


Serve individual portions and dollop with the mayonnaise/lemon/herb sauce above.


(IF the fish does not appear to be done, cover the cut with foil and return to the oven for a few minutes. Thick pieces of fish may take longer than 20 minutes.) AND - only use a white wine you would drink. It can be an inexpensive wine, but you are using just a few drops. Never, ever, ever, ever use a wine labeled "cooking wine." You palate will thank you.

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