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These are a few of my favourite things . . .

This week’s heading comes from the fact it was my birthday last / this week and my trainee chefs had a few surprises in store for me . . . and surprises is one of my favourite things! They presented me with a card and a lovely gift but best of all they had penned a song entitled 'The Chef’s Lament' and set to the tune of . . . yes you’ve guessed it 'These are a few of my favourite things', which with spoons in hand they sang to me in the middle of the kitchen. Thanks guys, it was very touching and lightened what has been a pretty heavy fortnight for us all.

Of course teaching, cooking and judging cooking competitions are some of my other favourite things. The latter I did this weekend - it was aimed at school pupils aged fourteen to seventeen and they had to prepare a nutritious Asian dish of their choice, for two people within one hour. They had to use only one gas ring, so planning as in all good cooking was essential. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm, research and creativity these young folk demonstrated, not to mention of course their cooking skills. The winners of these heats (and they were all winners in my eyes) now go on to semi finals and then the national finals in a few months time. Good luck to them all . . .

I am also hosting a Japanese luncheon next weekend for twenty plus people, so it had me thinking that this week’s recipe would be a seafood dish that is suitable for cooking in the home or out on the barbecue and that has an Asian / Pacific Rim twist to it. Something ‘us’ Kiwi chefs seem to be renowned for: ‘fusion cuisine’ - the combining of tastes and flavours from around the world into one dish. The method of cookery employed is called ‘paper bag’ cooking or ‘en papillotte’ and this dish uses typical New Zealand ingredients which of course if unavailable you can switch to local produce that is similar. I have given options in italics.

Ingredients for Fish en Papillotte


sweet potatoes/potatoes



hapuka steaks (boneless)




fresh ginger slices

green ginger



spring onions

scallions/green onions







fresh lemon grass stalk







How to make Fish en Papillotte

  • Take four lengths of tin foil that is three times as long as the fish steaks and lightly oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Slice the kumara/sweet potatoes into paper thin slices, season and place one third the way along each strip of tin foil. Overlapping each slice slightly, this will act as a base for the fish
  • Place the fish steaks on top (the fish should be no more than 2cm thick)
  • Place two slices of the ginger on top of the fish, followed by the chopped spring onions, chilli and a piece of the lemon grass (this should be lightly bruised/crushed under a knife and then cut into four)
  • Sprinkle with sake (this will cause the fish to cook via steaming and infuse great flavours into the fish)
  • Fold the tin foil over and fold over the edges to form a tight seal; this is just like pastry crimping for pies etc
  • Cook by placing directly onto a bbq or on a tray and into a pre-heated oven (200ºC) and cook for approx. 10 minutes (actual cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish). So making an extra portion and timing the actual cooking time before your guests arrive would be advisable.
  • The parcels will puff up like a balloon, serve them like this straight away before they deflate and let your guests unwrap them themselves

Chef's Tip on Fish en Papillotte

Like pie making, the neater the folds the neater the final parcel, so it may pay to practice this parcel making (known as en papillotte)

Taking the time to neatly cut the vegetables and the placement of them in the parcels will greatly enhance your guests experience when they unwrap them. Do take care to warn them that the tin foil is hot!

Enjoy and bon appetit . . . . .

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand