Asian Cod With Spring Onions and Asparagus in Parchment

Have you ever tried cooking in parchment packets? The fancy name is "en papillot," but all you really need to know are the basics, and that it's a great way to steam your food in its own flavorful juices without much added fat (unless you want to, of course!). I, of course, am still trying to whittle my middle, and parchment packet cooking is a great vehicle for low-calorie, high-flavor foods. And you KNOW I like those.

I urge you to buy unbleached parchment paper, and to find an unbleached version that is NOT coated with Quilon, which is used on many parchment papers to make them non-stick. Quilon contains chrome, and when it's incinerated, it becomes toxic and leaves trace elements. All the unbleached papers I've found are coated in silicone, which I would rather not have, but silicone doesn't break down the way Quilon does and so it is the "environmentally friendly" option. I have the If You Care brand parchment sheets right now, and I know that Beyond Gourmet also makes an unbleached, Quion-free parchment. If you know of a brand that's completely uncoated with anything and unbleached, let me know - maybe these don't exist?

Whatever you're using for parchment, you'll find this to be a super-healthful, high-fiber and high-protein meal that's long on flavor and short on mess. Don't know about you, but that checks a lot of boxes for me!

Asian Cod With Spring Onions and Asparagus in Parchment

 1 cod fillet (approximately 8 oz.) cut into two pieces
1 bunch of asparagus, last two inches cut off and remainder cut into 2-inch pieces
2 spring onions, thinly sliced up to the green part 2 T. fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade 1 t. garlic, minced 1 1/2 t. ginger, minced 2 T. low-sodium soy sauce (or wheat-free tamari if you're GF) 2 t. sesame oil Freshly-ground black pepper (optional) Parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Set two large pieces of parchment paper on a baking tray. Place a piece of cod on each. Divide the asparagus between the two packets, placing 1/2 on top of each piece of fish. Do the same with the onions. Top each piece of fish with equal amounts of basil, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and olive oil. Add  pepper if you like.

Close up the parchment paper to make two little packages.* Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and asparagus is tender.

Transfer your fish, sauce and veg to dinner plates, and eat up!

Serves 2, but can easily be scaled up.

*You may have seen fancy packets where the parchment is cut into a heart shape, then folded - I find that difficult, so my packets are more utilitarian, but just as good for cooking - I use a large rectangle of paper and when I'm ready to seal, I take the two long sides and gather them up at the top. Then, holding them together, I roll them down to the top of the fish (or chicken or whatever's in there), creasing as I go along so that they make a nice tight seal. Then I fold over the ends and tuck them under the packet and place the packet on a baking sheet. NOTE - there is sometimes some leakage, so you might want a rimmed baking sheet, or you can even use a 9x13 Pyrex dish for this. And if you want to see it in action, click here for a good little vid on cooking in parchment.

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