Fish en Foil

Your days of relying on Goldfish snacks to satisfy your seafood cravings are over. This week, we are going to make some actual delicious fishes, and we’ll do it without Autolyzed Yeast Extract. How? By harnessing the power of aluminum foil!

Cooking fish in foil is a simple, modern-day take on the traditional French method called en papillote. It’s fast (though not necessarily furious), and especially nice because of the big reveal at the end—it’s like opening up a tender, succulent present from your past self.

You can have a lot of fun with this cooking method by accessorizing your fish with long-lost treasures from your pantry. Steak seasoning? Random leftover half an onion? Basil leaves? Salad dressing? Sure! Toss it all in the foil packet and its flavor will delicately infuse the fish as it cooks. You can even put in fresh veggies to steam.

An important tip on fish-buying: while this recipe works well with pretty much any white-fleshed fish fillet, many fish species are endangered by overfishing, and many fishing methods are harmful to the ocean. Use this handy guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to help you procure dinner responsibly.

Tools Needed:

  • aluminum foil
  • baking sheet or pan

Ingredients Needed:

  • 6 oz. fish fillets (such as cod, haddock, tilapia, flounder) 1 or 2
  • salt
  • pepper
  • various seasonings, garnishes, veggies optional

Lesson Gallery... Yum yum.

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  • I chose to use wild salmon as my fish and I stuffed my foil with yellow squash, scallions, garlic, purple basil, lemon, salt, and pepper. I was inspired and made a second foil pouch with the rest of the yellow squash and some zucchini which also turned out delicious. I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the fish since it almost seemed raw when I opened the pouch but the knife was clean when I checked it for done-ness. The flavor was delicious. The fish was juicy and tender and you could really taste the lemon, and scallions and basil. This might become my new go to method for cooking fish.

  • I take HORRIBLE food pictures, oops. Turned out great and I learned that I could wrap the tinfoil around! Had never done that before.

  • Congrats! I’m really glad this turned out well! Hope you try it with some other flavor/seasoning/veggie combinations too. There’s really a lot of fun to be had here. :) You get 2 points: +1 for doing the mission and +1 for being first.

  • Ooooh the limes and red onions look very beautiful with their color contrasts! Sometimes it takes a bit of experimentation to figure out how to cook something perfectly, but the most important thing is to actually try :) You get 2 points: +1 for doing the mission, and +1 for the helpful comment on cooking time.

  • Nice! Your fish looks very tender and flaky and well-seasoned. You’re correct in that this method is essentially steaming the fish in the closed environment of a foil packet :) I’m glad you tried this method, and now you know what works! You get 2 points: +1 for completing the mission and +1 for the helpful comment about the sesame oil.

  • Not bad. One tilapia filet = 2 lunches, which is nice. Our oven doesn’t work, so I had to use the toaster oven for this one. I think that sesame oil may not be the best to bake in, as the smell was tasty but rather strange since it wasn’t stir-fry. First time I’ve ever baked (steamed?) fish, to be honest – generally I pan-fry because it’s harder to go wrong. This felt a bit like magic, pop in one way and it comes out another. Lunch tomorrow will be fish, broccoli and brown rice. Baby steps…

  • I used cayenne pepper, limes, and red onions for flavor on some haddock. It came out OK. I would make this again except for reducing cooking time by 2-3 minutes, since the fillets were very thin (1/2 inch at the thickest point). Overall the fish en foil was a nice variation from just baking it.

  • Funnily enough, I had very similar ingredients at home—asparagus I’d been putting off cooking, salt and pepper, and some garlic. Got some cod off of Fresh Direct and went to work.

    AND IT WAS SO DELICIOUS AND EASY. I’d heard about cooking fish in foil but had never given it a try, but I love fish, and this made the veggies just a bit tender and tasty, and everything was just amazing. My main taste-tester said “This is really good!” about four times over the course of the meal, so this is definitely entering my repertoire.