Skrei en papillote with olives, spinach and herbs

Skrei cod en papillote with olives, spinach and herbs


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Norway has a long standing reputation for having some of the finest seafood in the world. Skrei, named after an old Norse word meaning ‘wanderer’, is a truly exceptional cod found in the wild coastal waters of Norway’s far north. In the past, years of overfishing have made those who are environmentally conscious avoid cod, including me. Skrei is not only possibly the best cod you are ever likely to taste, it can also be enjoyed guilt-free. Norway’s impeccable sustainability standards ensure that the Skrei is only caught during a very short and strictly controlled fishing season between January and April.

Despite the exotic name of this dish (‘en papillote’ is just French for ‘in parchment’) this is a quick and easy midweek meal. Little parchment parcels are filled with fish which steams gently on a bed of vegetables, allowing all of the flavours to intermingle. Although simple, this dish is certainly impressive enough to serve to impromptu guests. I think there is something especially appealing about unwrapping your own parcel at the table and releasing the wonderful aroma of sweet basil and herbs.

The only accompaniment needed is a bowl of steamed new potatoes with a little butter and sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Preheat an oven to 190°C/gas mark 5
Prepare the parcels by cutting out 4 squares of baking paper and 4 squares of foil, each approximately 30cm square. Lay out the 4 pieces of foil and place the paper squares on top
Divide the spinach, courgette slices and olives between the parcels. Season and drizzle each parcel with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil before placing a fish fillet on top
Place the lemon juice, zest, crushed garlic and herbs in a small bowl and whisk in the remaining olive oil. Pour a little of the the dressing over each fillet, reserving any leftover for the table
Bring up the edges of the baking paper layer of each parcel and fold over the edges to seal. Then do the same with the foil layer
Place the parcels on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes
When the parcels are ready, carefully remove the foil but leave the paper parcel intact. Put each parcel on a serving plate and open at the table. Serve the extra dressing in a jug to drizzle over
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