By A.J. Fusco
Fish in foil; yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.
“I will have the dry, flavorless fish, please,” said no one ever. With high-heat, dry methods such as grilling and sauteing, you run the risk of overcooking your protein, especially delicate fish. Cooking in foil is derived from the French cooking technique called “en papillote,” or, as it is known in Italian, “al cartoccio.” Essentially it means food cooked in a parcel or package traditionally made from parchment paper. To make this a little more “firehouse friendly,” we forego the intricate technique of folding parchment and instead use plain ol’ aluminum foil for its ease of sealing. By cooking the ingredients this way, you are essentially creating a fast cooking, high-heat steam environment, which is perfect for delicate proteins like fish and shrimp. The one downside to this technique is the inability to periodically check on your food to see if it is cooked because of the sealed package, so it may take a few tries for you to figure out this technique. The other plus side of cooking this way is less cleanup, which is perfect for the firehouse. All your ingredients, aside from any accompaniment like rice or potatoes, are cooked in foil, which gets tossed at the end of the meal. Your crew will definitely thank you for that! And while this recipe calls for the package being cooked in an oven, you can definitely use the grill instead. Just use indirect heat by lighting half of the grill on high and placing the packages over the “cool” side. This is perfect for the summer.
With this technique, keep in mind the fast cooking time, so any aromatics or vegetables you add should be quick cooking or cut small and thin enough so that they will cook in time. With vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and celery, the preferred cut would be julienne (thin strips) or diced (smaller than chopped). While I like to add a little white wine, you can use water, citrus juice, or stock. This liquid, while not necessary, will help create a steam environment, along with the steam given off by your other ingredients. Use your imagination when deciding what flavors you are looking for. A simple combination that works well is butter, garlic, and lemon, perfect for sole or shrimp. Thin-sliced fennel and orange work great with salmon for a dinner high in Omega 3! Either way, the important thing to remember is to have fun and learn from your mistakes, although this one is pretty hard to mess up! Stay safe, eat well!
Fish in Foil with Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon, and Capers
4 six-ounce Hake Fillets (Striped Bass, Sole, Trout, or any flaky white fish work well)
Small Package of Cherry Tomatoes
1 Lemon, thin sliced
Small Jar of Capers in Brine, drained
Handful of Fresh Parsley
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Splash of White Wine (optional)
- Preheat oven to 500°F or as high as it will go.
- Tear off four pieces of foil, large enough to fit each fillet with plenty of extra room.
- Season the fillets well with salt and place on the foil. Fold up the sides of the foil so the ingredients stay put.
- Drizzle the fish with enough olive oil to cover most of the bottom of the foil.
- Evenly distribute the lemon slices on top of the fish, followed by the tomatoes, capers, and parsley sprigs.
- Sprinkle with a pinch more of salt and add a splash of white wine if using.
- Fold the sides of the foil in and seal well.
- Place on a tray or sheet pan and put in the oven.
- Cook for about 8-10 minutes. This will depend on the thickness and type of fish. If you open the packet and it still looks raw, carefully seal back up and cook longer.
This recipe and technique also work well on the grill!
A.J. Fusco started Fork and Hose Company in 2011 by as a way to share his passion for cooking with other firefighters. Over time, it grew to a community of firehouse chefs sharing meals and recipes from all over the world, with a focus on healthier cooking. In 2017, A.J.’s dedication to firehouse cooking landed him on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” twice, and on his first show he won the Salute to Firefighters episode! A.J.’s passion for cooking didn’t stop in the firehouse! He enrolled at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan in 2016 and graduated Top of the Class in the Professional Culinary Arts program. A.J. has worked in professional kitchens in Manhattan and Westchester since graduating and continues to do so on his days off from the firehouse.