fish for one

Today it is 25 degrees F , and according to, it feels like 14. I know for a fact it feels like 14 because I wandered out into it in a short skirt (with tights, but still, short skirt? Yes, I know I am out of my mind). Later this week it’s supposed to be 60 degrees, and I’m currently sporting an ear infection. Fortunately, it doesn’t hurt anymore, but I can’t hear jack out of my right ear. I’ve been sitting here at work all morning with people yapping on and on and I am blissfully unaware of them. they sound not unlike adults sound in the Charlie Brown cartoons.

I ought to be writing about soup, shouldn’t i? it’s cold enough outside. But I’m not going to because I haven’t eaten any lately. I’ll write instead on something I’ve been eating a lot of for the past month. I, along with everyone else in the free world, feel like I overindulged a wee bit over the holidays; however my indulgence wasn’t food, but more the calorie content of several bottles of bubbly. I’m trying to make up for it by working out 5 days a week and eating lighter fare. I’m by no means depriving myself, because what’s the use of that? That would just make me miserable. But I am being slightly more conscious about what I’m forking (or splashing) into my mouth.

The boy and I are on a budget, so while rooting around in the deep freeze in the garage to forage for something for dinner one night, I found several bags of flash-frozen fish I’d bought a while ago and forgot about. I decided to revisit an Alton Brown recipe where he makes salmon en papillote in the microwave. If you never saw that episode of Good Eats, you’re probably wondering if I lost my marbles. Fish in the microwave? Well, yeah. It’s perfect if you’re just cooking for one, and it’s really good. Trust me on this.

The magnificent thing about this recipe is that it really isn’t a recipe. You can do whatever you want with it, add whatever flavors suit your fancy, and it’ll work. As long as you have a wee small amount of liquid in there to help steam the fish, you’re good to go. You can use any flaky white fish portion (4 to 6 oz for 3 minutes on high), or salmon (4 to 6 oz for 4 minutes on high, and i've only tried this with skinless salmon). For the liquid, you can use a splash of white wine, vermouth, Pernod, Chinese rice wine, even water. So here goes:

Use a large rectangular piece of parchment, and lay that on top of a paper plate or other microwaveable dish. In the middle of the parchment, set the foundation for your piece of fish to sit on. You can use something you’re going to eat (like green beans, julienned zucchini and squash) or something you’re not going to eat but would add flavor (orange, lemon, or lime slices). You can put some greens in there too, but realize that they will shrink down to almost nothing, so use a lot if you’re going to use any.

Salt and pepper your piece of fish on both sides. You can add whatever other spices you want at this time. I’m good with salt and pepper myself. Place fish on top of the bed of vedge, and add a mere splash of whatever liquid you’re using. Bring up the longer sides of the parchment together and start folding the edge down until it’s snug against the fish, then fold in each side the same way. Ensure that there are no leaks, as you want your fish to steam properly. Put in the microwave on high, 3 to 3 ½ minutes for white fish and 4 minutes for salmon.

Remove from microwave, carefully open the package (watch out for steam burns), and check if your fish is done (it should be but depending on your microwave, you never know). Slide package onto another plate that’s not piping hot. And eat. Or cover with sriracha first like I do on occasion, and eat.

Possible flavor combinations include: orange slices, julienned fennel, and a splash of Pernod; minced garlic, minced ginger, bok choy, splash of Chinese rice wine, splash of soy, sriracha; etc etc. let your imagination and stomach guide you.


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