This is another simple dish that can be prepared in advance and put in the oven as your guests eat the appetizer. I believe in the principle of eating fish once or twice a week. But I notice lots of unpracticed cooks intimidated by the notion of preparing fish, especially whole, so I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy preparations. You can substitute flounder, sole, monkfish, salmon, cod, bass or swordfish for the halibut in this one. The cooking time will be shorter with the lighter fish, such as sole, and longer with meatier fish, such as swordfish.
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 fillets of halibut, about 4 ounces each
½ cup Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut recommended)
2 tsp fennel seeds
8 sprigs fresh thyme
8 sprigs parsley
8 thin lemon slices
Salt and pepper to taste
Yield: 4 Servings
Cut 8 pieces of parchment (or aluminum foil) into squares large enough to cover each fish fillet with a two-inch border all around. Lightly brush 4 squares with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put halibut in the center and drizzle with Champagne. Add 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 lemon slices, 2 parsley sprigs and ½ tsp fennel seeds on each piece of fish. Season to taste. Use the remaining parchment squares as top sheets, fold the edges up to form packets. Simply double-folding each of the four sides is enough to seal each filet. Put on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes in preheated oven. Serve by setting each packet on a plate. Let your guests open the packet and spoon juices over the fish. Voilà—Drama as well as flavor!