Foodist Approved: Butter Sage Fish en Papillote

by | Oct 1, 2014
lemon sage fish en papillote

lemon sage fish en papillote

During my time living abroad in Switzerland, I discovered a crafty way to bake fish in the oven and it’s now become my laid back, go-to method. I love that “Butter Sage Salmon en Papillote” sounds so fancy-schmancy, yet to make it is so simple and foolproof.

The technique of baking fish “en papillote” literally means “in parchment paper,” and is a method of cooking food in a sealed packet so the food steams in its own juices. This prevents fish fillets from drying out (guilty here of trying to revive too many overcooked wild salmon fillets by dousing them in a sauce) and as an added bonus leads to an easy cleanup. No more stinking up your kitchen (sorry honey!) by leaving casserole dishes stuck hopelessly with burnt scales soaking overnight.

Make your own little packets, fill with your favorite fish, top with a little butter and sage, serve with a side of roasted veggies, light a candle and prepare to impress your guest of honor.

This recipe works fabulous with just about any type of seafood. To select a sustainable option free of contaminants, I highly recommend downloading the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide.

Butter Sage Fish en Papillote

Yield: 2 servings

  • parchment paper
  • 2 fish fillets, good sustainable options: arctic char, tilapia, wild Alaskan salmon, striped bass, Pacific halibut
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 thin lemon slices

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

Tear off two foot long sheets of parchment paper. Fold each sheet in half then open back up and place each fillet at the crease of the fold.

Top each fillet with slices of butter, a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, fresh sage leaves and lemon slices.

Fold over the parchment paper and tightly roll edges of paper to seal the fish into a packet. This allows the fish to steam cook in its own juices.

Place fish en papillote on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Bake times will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet.

Serve with a side of seasonal roasted veggies or zucchini pesto “pasta.”

Elyse Kopecky is a social media and digital technology consultant based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS in Portland, Amsterdam and Geneva she briefly left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at and @freshabits.

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4 Responses to “Foodist Approved: Butter Sage Fish en Papillote”

  1. laura says:

    I love this and make a version with tomato, thyme, lemon and capers (and no butter!)

    It’s great on a bed of farro, brown rice or other grain.

    • Thanks for sharing Laura! Olives or capers would be a great addition. Butter and sage are one of my favorite combos and I like to pour the juices back over the salmon as a sauce. Plus butter should be celebrated as a health food 🙂

    • Leslie Anderson says:

      This fish was a big hit for dinner the other night. I made it with wild caught halibut. It was amazing and easy to make. I can’t wait to try it with wild caught salmon. I served it with rice and baby bok choy sauteed with garlic. Thank you for the great recipe.

  2. Jen G says:

    Hi everyone!
    I have a great tip for summer (it’s summer here in Australia now) when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen with the oven. The fish can be steamed in the papillote. I use a pot that I can fit a fold out steamer in, add enough water just under the surface of the steam tray/basket. Then I roll out baking paper to a square shape and sit it in the steam tray with the sides pulled up to keep all the ingredients together. Then I add all the ingredients for one portion into the paper. I can fit 3 portions gently sitting next to eachother in the pot. This takes only 10 minutes to steam et voila. When it’s ready you can gently pull each papillote out with tongs and an egg flip. Also, I don’t even bother to seal the papillotes, but you can if you wish. To make it a full meal I like to make a bed of fresh spinach, then the fish, lemon slice and diced capsicum, asparagus, brocoli florets, olives sans pips and sometimes diced tomato and dill for a change. I think artichoke would also be good with this. I don’t use butter because I just like the steamed broth on its own. This recipe works well with a white fish that’s not too fishy (due to family member’s taste). Cheers Jen G

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