Monday, August 10, 2009

Fish for dinner - whole baked salmon en papillote with Lemon & fennel

I've been a bad bad blogger. Lately my entries usually comprise of daring baker challenges and that's about it. I used to be able to blame uni studies, but now that it's over, I'm running out of excuses. I guess the old excuse of "life just gets in the way" is the best one I can think of. My kitchen is busy as always though. Busier than ever actually. I have been baking and cooking like crazy to contemplate all those times consumed with study and assignments. I just didn't find the time, energy, nor the inspiration to blog.

Lately, my thoughts are consumed with this huge decision I'm about to make. Perhaps one of the biggest decision in my life. I think I mentioned somewhere before that I planned to move back to Indonesia this year. But I put that aside to focus on my study, now, it's getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. No dates has been set yet. And there's still a lot of details that I need to figure out. Breaking the news to my boss has been the first step. It's so overwhelming!!! Just the thought of packing 7 years of my life and saying goodbye to this beautiful city where I basically spent most of my adult life is extremely hard and very daunting. What most daunting for me is saying goodbye to M. We decided to try a long distance relationship for the time being and see how we go from there. Having coming out of a 4 years relationship where the 3 years out of it are spent apart, I'm certainly not looking forward to relive the experience. It's just something we have to do. If it's meant to be, there will be a way.

From now on, I'll be busy cramming as much as "melbourne experience" as I can. So I can bottle up enough memories of this city to last me till the next visit. But hey, coming home to the love of your family and childhood friends sort of make all this 'separation' worth doing. And I won't know what the future holds for me. I can easily end up back in Melbourne in a couple years time. For now, I need to go back home and start taking care of my parents.

This is why I've been cooking lots of comfort food. My mind just needs to be soothed from all this as well as the freezing weather Melbourne has delivered this couple of weeks.

I'm trying a new technique to cook this beautiful whole trout I got from the market. The term 'en papillote means 'in parchment' in french. It's a technique of cooking fish or meat in their own juice inside a parcel made out of aluminium foil or baking paper. The parcel traps the heat and steam and gently cooks the meat and infuse it with flavour. I love this technique as it gives a very strong infusion to the meat while keeping it moist and juicy. I never cook with fennel before, but it goes beautifully with the trout. I serve this fish with a rich and creamy baked potatoes. The tanginess and freshness of the fish marries perfectly with the richness and creaminess of the potatoes. Definitely a perfect comfort food for a chilly night with a tall glass of white wine.

Baked whole trout en papillote with lemon and fennel
Original recipe can be found at the Times Online October 3, 2007

1 whole trout, cleaned and gutted
1 tbsp classic vinaigrette
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 bulbs of fennel, tough core removed and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
4 slices of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
60-70ml dry white wine

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6, or light the barbecue.
2 Place the trout on a clean chopping board and make 3-4 deep slices in each side of the fish, then season well with salt and pepper.
3 Take four large pieces of tin foil and brush the surface with olive oil
4 Fill the cavity of each trout with the fennel and garlic and place the fish inside the foil. Place the slices of lemon confit on top of the fish, carefully pull the foil up to create a parcel, then pour over the wine.
5 Scrunch the top of the foil together to form a nice, tight parcel.
6 Place in the preheated oven or barbecue and cook for 10-15 minutes.
7 Transfer the fish in the foil to the serving plates, then open up the foil parcels - eat straight from the foil if you like.

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