Fish steamed with homemade garlic mint butter and lemon slices on a bed of greens in a parchment paper tent can transform a simple meal into an exceptional one.
Making the garlic mint butter—which has an incredibly creamy taste—is easy and fast, and should be done the day before to set the flavour.
Steam-baking the fish in a parchment paper tent allows for flavours to mingle while cooking. This is a healthy cooking method and makes for easy cleanup. Arrange the fish, greens, and lemons attractively in the parchment paper. This way, the meal can be served in the paper or on a plate. Don’t toss the greens or lemons as they are equally delicious.
While shopping for the ingredients I recommend selecting two side dishes from your favourite deli such as Greek-style quinoa salad, green beans and almonds, or cucumber cilantro salad. This will keep the meal simple.
Steam-baked Fish in Parchment
Several fresh leafy greens, (kale, spinach, chard) to make bed for fish
4 slices of lemon, sliced thinly
Skinless fish fillet (salmon or white-fleshed fish such halibut, sole, or haddock)
Homemade garlic mint butter (recipe below)
Dash of salt and pepper
Tarragon or rosemary sprig (optional)
Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Rinse selected greens in strainer and de-vein and cut off any stems. Set aside. Roll out parchment paper and determine amount needed for the paper to be doubled over to cover the top and bottom of the fish, leaving plenty of room on the sides to fold. Cut the paper to appropriate size.
Place the greens where the fish will go on the paper (near the centre where the fold is). On top of the greens place three lemon slices, then add tarragon or rosemary on top of lemons and a dash of salt and pepper. Place fish on top. Butter the top of the fish with mint butter (to keep moist), and then add another dash of salt and pepper. Place a lemon slice on top of the fish along with a large dab of mint butter.
Fold paper over fish and seal the open edges by making one to two folds of the paper toward the fish. Continue this until all of the open sides are secure. Transfer packet to a baking sheet. The parchment paper should extend upward like a tent in the cooking process.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or 10 minutes per inch. Slice open or unravel one end of the paper, as the fish will continue to cook in the tent until the steam is released. Serve in the parchment paper with a plate underneath or transfer fish, greens, and lemon from the paper onto a plate. (The tarragon or rosemary can be removed from under the fish before eating.)
Homemade Garlic Mint Butter
Use on fish, meats, vegetables, or popcorn for a savoury snack
250 ml (1 cup) fresh mint leaves
1 lemon squeezed
1 small garlic clove
1 pint organic heavy whipping cream
Dash or two of salt
2 ml (1/2 tsp) honey
2 ml (1/2 tsp) sugar
In a strainer, rinse mint and towel dry. Remove leaves from stem and any thick veins. Finely chop mint or cut with herb scissors. Place the mint on a piece of wax or parchment paper big enough to fold over and cover the top and bottom of the mint with some extra room on the sides. Crush the mint with a rolling pin to release the oils. Set aside.
Squeeze the lemon, and set aside. Peel outer skin of garlic. Place garlic on a chopping board and mash with the side of a knife and then finely dice. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer with a large mixing bowl, whip the cream until it becomes chunky, slightly yellow, and releases any liquid. Whip a few more times to release additional liquid. Put a mesh strainer over a bowl and add the contents into the strainer. Using a spatula, press the butter through the strainer to remove the liquid. This liquid is buttermilk. Once the liquid is removed, check the back of the strainer for butter that may have squeezed though. Collect it with the spatula and put it in the strainer. Rinse the butter in the strainer with water and gently remove any remaining water.
Place the butter in a bowl. Add the mint, lemon, garlic, salt, honey and sugar. If the butter does not absorb all of the liquid, pour any leftover droplets into the sink. Taste, and add more salt if needed.
Tips: Double the recipe if cooking for four or more. The butter should be used in a week and stored in the refrigerator or frozen to use later. Keep the buttermilk for up to a week and use it in pancakes or waffles mixes.