An alternative way with Haddock
Most people will be familiar with the firm, juicy white flakes of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) after a good coating of batter and immersion in a deep fat fryer. In Scotland and the north of England, haddock is the fish of choice for most chippies and their customers rather than cod, rock or plaice (my personal favourite). It's a clean tasting fish that isn't too gelatinous (I often find cod way too slimy in that regard) and healthy for you, if it hasn't received the chip shop treatment.
This recipe is an easy way to cook many types of fish; prepared fillets are available in every supermarket, fish monger and market. If you've got none of those nearby the Co-op is often good at stocking a range of fresh fillets in even the tiniest of stores so don't dismiss fish if it's difficult to get to the shops. In terms of sustainability haddock from fisheries in the Northeast Arctic and Iceland are best - these are certified to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. If the fish is vac packed and sitting on the supermarket shelf look for the blue MSC symbol and it should tell you on the back how and where it was caught.
Some cheffy types call this method of cooking 'en papillote' meaning 'in parchment'. While you don't need to faff around with parchment and string (good old kitchen foil will do the job), who doesn't like unwrapping a present, especially when there's something as delicious as this inside.
You can adjust the herbs and seasoning to suit - this one is super simple, flat leaf parsley, lemon, salt, pepper, olive oil and butter. The fish doesn't need too long but cooking it in the parcel keeps it nice and juicy plus you have all the cooking juices to spoon over so if it's slightly overdone no one will notice.
We've served this with some long stem broccoli, new potatoes and some steamed romanesco cauliflower baked in an easy cheese sauce. Haddock goes well with and can stand up to strong flavours like mature cheddar, and it's often featured in a fish pie or with a mornay sauce.
- 2 unsmoked, undyed, skinned haddock fillets (I buy those sustainably fished with the MSC mark)
- drizzle of olive oil
- small handful flat leaf parsley
- 6 slices unwaxed lemon
- 2 small knobs of butter
- salt and black pepper
- Chopping board
- small knife
- baking parchment and string if necessary or kitchen foil
- oven tray
- fish slice
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/Gas 4
- Tear off two pieces of baking parchment or foil, about 20cm x 30cm (no need to get the ruler out!)
- Drizzle the middle of each with a little oil. Place some herbs on top, then the fish. Top with a little butter, slices of lemon and seasoning.
- Carefully wrap up each parcel, firmly tucking the baking parchment in underneath and tying with string if need be, or sealing well in kitchen foil.
- Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.
- Unwrap the fish, taking care not to lose the juices. Place onto warm plates and pour over the cooking juices. Serve with veg as required.