PAPER WRAPPED FISH FOR ST. NICHOLAS - Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Orata ou triglie alla San Nicola
Preparation - Medium; Prep: 20 - Cook: 20
For One Portion
Presumably this is named for San Nicola because it is associated with Bari, where Nicholas has been patron since Barese merchants stole his saintly relics from Myra on the Aegean coast of Turkey in 1087.
In the original, small individual fish, weighing no more than 1/2 pound each, are dressed with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and lemon slices, then wrapped in parchment paper for roasting. Since whole fish of this size are difficult to find in this country, I often do this with fish steaks or fillets. Almost any fish responds well to the treatment - I have tried it with swordfish, halibut, and tuna steaks, as well as with boneless chunks of haddock and cod. Small, impeccably fresh tinker mackerel are splendid wrapped whole this way, as are small bluefish, sometimes called blue snapper, when they're in season.
Parchment paper or aluminum foil, baking sheet.
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small whole fish, weighing approximately 1/2 pound, or comparable serving-sized fish steaks or thick fillets
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- 3 or 4 pitted black olives, if desired
- 2 or 3 very thin lemon slices
- 2 or 3 garlic slivers
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- PREHEAT the oven to 4OO degrees F.
- LAY out a length of parchment paper or aluminum foil-for each fish or piece of fish, you'll need enough to make a loose packet around it. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of oil over the paper, then set the fish on it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with the parsley. Add the oregano and olives, if desired, lay a few lemon slices and the garlic slivers on top, and drizzle the fish with the remaining oil and the lemon juice.
- PULL up the edges of the aluminum foil or parchment paper and fold them together to make a loose but secure packet. Place each serving packet on a baking sheet and slide into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. (If you use parchment paper, it will puff up and brown, a handsome thing to send to the table.) Open one of the packages to test if the fish is done. If not, return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Note that whole fish will take longer to cook than steaks or fillets.
- SERVE immediately, in their individual packets.
NOTE: If you are using whole fish, put some of the aromatics inside the opening as well as on top of the fish.