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Halibut in Parchment with Basil Oil

Halibut in Parchment with Basil Oil
Baking fish in parchment paper, a quick cooking method, gently preserves the fishs tenderness while capturing its flavor. The fish may be placed on a bed of herbs or vegetables, or topped with a sauce, flavored oil or butter. Cooking fish inside a packet intensifies its taste and envelops the fish with a cloud of fragrance that is released when the parchment is cut for serving.

Ingredients:

For the basil oil:

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

  • 4 halibut fillets, each 6 to 8 oz.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for coating
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

To make the basil oil, bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the basil to the boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds. Immediately empty the basil and water into a colander or sieve and run cold water over the basil to stop the cooking. In small handfuls, squeeze as much water from the basil as possible. In a blender, combine the basil, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and puree until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Set aside at room temperature.

Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper, each as long as the paper is wide. Fold each piece in half and use a pencil to draw a half heart, with the center at the fold, taking up the full width and length of the paper. Cut out the hearts with scissors. Place 1 paper heart, opened flat, on a work surface, with the point of the heart facing you.

Coat the halibut fillets with olive oil and season both sides with salt and white pepper. Place a fillet in the center of one half of the parchment heart. Spoon one-fourth of the basil oil over each fillet. Fold the paper over so the edges match. Beginning at the top of the heart, at the end of the curve, fold the edges together, making small overlapping folds all the way to the bottom point of the heart. Fold the point under to prevent leakage. Repeat with the remaining fillets and parchment hearts.

Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer each packet to a warmed dinner plate and cut an X in the top with scissors (be careful of the escaping hot steam). Sprinkle each fillet with 1 Tbs. of the pine nuts and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Seafood, by Carolyn Miller (Simon & Schuster, 2005).