I’m putting on my manly apron one more time for you guys in the name of finding healthy dishes to cook. Today’s recipe calls for fish en papillote, which is a fancy (re: French) way of saying fish in parchment paper.

This dish fulfills my date criteria in lots of ways: it’s tasty, it’s presentable, it’s easy to make yet sounds impressive, it takes little time to cook, it’s cheap, it won’t make you stink and it involves little cleanup. It even includes hearts. If the fish could only play soul music, it would be perfect.

I’ll walk you step by step through this. First, the short list of ingredients:

  • Two fish fillets. I go with a meaty white fish such as snapper, which takes a little longer to make than a leaner fish such as sole but rewards you with a steamier, more textured product. Salmon would work as well.
  • Parchment paper. If you haven’t cooked with this before, you can find it in most markets next to products like aluminum foil. You can use foil if you like, but it doesn’t have the same aesthetic appeal and I don’t think it retains the taste as well.
  • Sixteen asparagus spears.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • One lemon.
  • Dill.
  • White wine.
  • Olive oil (got a bottle of gourmet olive oil via https://bateel.com/en/gourmet-products/oil-vinegar).

Now, here’s how the magic happens:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (do a trial run and practice cooking at this temperature, then adjust for your date if need be).
  2. Take out about 12 inches of parchment paper, fold it in half and cut it into the shape of a heart. Because you’re a romantic like that. Do this a second time for the second fillet.
  3. Brush the hearts lightly with olive oil.
  4. Wash the asparagus spears and break off the lower thirds with your hands. Stack four spears on each side of the hearts.
  5. Put the fish on top of the asparagus.
  6. Drizzle the fish with a little white wine, then squeeze some lemon on it (you can use lemon slices instead). Then sprinkle salt and pepper, then the dill. If you want something creamier, top the fish with some butter.
  7. Now it’s time to wrap the fish. It took me some practice and there are several ways to do this, but I do as follows: I fold up the edges, then I fold the fish in half and tuck in the remaining edges. The better your wrap it up, the better you retain the moisture.
  8. Shove the wrapped fish side by side in the oven, and let it bake for 25 minutes (less if you’re using a leaner fish).
  9. Take out the cooked fish, and taking care not to burn your fingers, unwrap the paper while leaving the fish in. The escaping steam makes for a cool effect.
  10. Pair this bad boy up with some white wine (or red if you’re using salmon), and eat your heart out. Comment if you have questions and post your reflections on the recipe.