|COOKING EN PAPILLOTE STARTS WITH A HEART|
Cooking en papillote or in parchment is a good way to retain flavour in a dish as it seals in the juices. I used to think that using paper would be difficult and messy, and that aluminium foil or cling film would be a better alternative. But unlike paper, foil and plastic are not permeable, and while that keeps the food from leaking, there is also the risk of overcooking.
After using paper a few times, I found that it works very well, especially with items like seafood and vegetables. It may not stand up well to the wet heat of a steamer, but it fares well in the oven.
Estimating the cooking time may take some trial and error at first. But a good indicator is looking at the colour of the paper. Once the packets start to brown and puff up, it won't be long before the food can come out of the oven.
|Snip, fill, fold, seal|
Preparing and filling the paper parchment hearts
1. Fold a piece of parchment paper (about 30cm by 35cm) in half and cut it into a half-heart shape, staying as close to the outside edges as possible.
2. Open the parchment heart. Brush oil on the paper and place ingredients to one side of the fold line, at least 5cm from the paper’s edge.
3. Fold the top half of the heart over to enclose the ingredients. Starting at the top of the heart fold about 1cm of the edge towards the centre. Fold again to make a tight seal. Continue folding over the edge of the parchment packet, doubling the edge over so that it is tight.
4. When you come to the bottom of the heart, twist the tip and fold it under the packet to seal. Place on a rimmed baking tray to bake.
To serve, snip an "X" in the top of the packet and peel the paper open.
|Keep the colour|
Tofu And Vegetable Parcels
3 cakes square white tofu
1 cup small broccoli florets
½ cup carrot matchsticks
1cm fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
4 prepared parchment paper hearts
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped, to serve
Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut tofu into 3mm slices.
Brush parchment paper hearts with oil and divide tofu between them, overlapping the slices slightly.
Layer with broccoli florets and carrot matchsticks. Sprinkle with minced ginger.
Drizzle on the soya sauce and sesame oil.
Crimp the edges of the parcels tightly and place on a rimmed baking tray.
Bake for 15-18 minutes.
Cut open the parcels at the table and sprinkle each one with chopped coriander before serving.
|Seal in the goodness|
Mustard Mushrooms and Brown Rice Parcels
2 cups cooked brown rice
6 large dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup assorted fresh Asian mushrooms (shimeji, enoki, oyster)
½ red capsicum, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp coarse grain mustard
Salt and pepper
Oil for brushing
4 prepared parchment paper hearts
Salad leaves, to serve
Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Leave to rehydrate and soften. Squeeze lightly to remove excess water (reserve the mushroom juice) and remove mushroom stems. Slice mushroom caps into three. Mix with the other Asian mushrooms and capsicum. Set aside.
Combine mustard and 1½ tbsp of the reserved mushroom juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the mushrooms and capsicum.
Heat oven to 220°C. Brush the parchment paper with oil. Divide brown rice among each parchment piece. Top with mushroom mixture and sprinkle with minced garlic. Pour on a little more of the mushroom juice if desired. Crimp the edges of the parcels tightly. Place parcels on a rimmed baking tray and bake until parcels are puffed, 20-25 minutes.
To serve, place parcels on individual plates, cut open and serve with salad leaves.