Halibut en Papillote with Rice Pilaf (Leeks & Peas)

cooked halibut pilaf

I don’t know whether it’s proper form to use leeks AND peas in the same recipe, but i did. You can omit either if it seems too alien or weird. Cooking en papillote is a fabulous way to entertain. It’s simple, fresh, and just plain fun. Ingredients tucked inside are sealed in together during cooking, then an enticing cloud of aromatic steam is released when the packages are opened. Present the packets on individual plates so guests can open their own and savour the moment. Serve with an heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella salad.

Halibut en Papillote with Rice Pilaf (Peas & Leeks)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 5 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 cups leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green bits only)
  • 2 cups petite peas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 strip meyer lemon peel (about 2” long)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 pound line-caught halibut filets, sliced into 4 equal pieces
  • 8 meyer lemon slices, cut thin, seeds removed
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rice and coat with butter. Cook until rice begins to crackle, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add 1½ cups water, and lemon zest strip. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  4. Discard lemon, stir, and set aside.
  5. On a platter, generously salt and pepper the fish fillets. Drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the remaining butter with 1 tablespoon of shallot, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste until evenly combined.
  7. Meanwhile, arrange 4 12 x 12 sheets of parchment paper on a work surface. In the center of each sheet, place a cup of the rice pilaf and top with a halibut piece.
  8. Pour 1 tablespoon of white wine over each fillet.
  9. Place the butter parsley mixture on the fish, then arrange two lemon slices on top.
  10. Bring two opposite sides of parchment up over the arrangement. Fold under to seal. Arrange the packages on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until they are slightly puffy. Transfer to plates.

halibut en pap pre oven

I paired this recipe with a bottle of 2009 Grenache (Grenache 91% Syrah 9%) from Curtis Winery located in Santa Ynez, California. This juice has big guns. An adventurous rhone blend with a jungle of ripe fruit aromas and a hint of black tea. The texture is bright and juicy, and bleeds with flavors of raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla. A dark blackberry note joins vibrant acidity for a focused showdown.

Movie Night suggestion: Something with big guns, non-stop action, hefty mandibles, and an exciting showdown. Commandos in Central America become the targets of a superior race of alien creature that can blend into its surroundings. Predator (1987) is one of my favourite sci-fi films of all time with enough hot testosterone to puff your parchment paper. This cat and mouse chase has lots of muscle, but the alien keeps everyone grounded. Body count: 69 (most of them at the hands of Dutch (Schwarzenegger), a scorpion, a pig, and a badass Predator.

Special film notes: The black helicopter pilot seen at the end of the movie is Kevin Peter Hall, the actor who played the Predator. Shane Black, who plays Commando Hawkins, is a writer. The producer wanted Black, who was writing Lethal Weapon at the time, close to him so he could review the script at a moment’s notice. Lastly, the weapon that Blain (Ventura) is using is a minigun. This is a weapon most commonly mounted on the side of a helicopter and many modifications had to be made to make it film friendly. It was powered with an electrical cord hidden down the front of Blain’s trousers (whoa). The firing rate was slowed down to approximately a third of the normal rate of fire, both to reduce consumption of blanks, and to make the spinning of the barrels visible on film. It is rumored that Ventura had to wear a bulletproof vest because of the forceful ejection of spent cartridges, but this is false. Unmodified miniguns eject out of the bottom, with the cases essentially falling out due to the force of gravity. Close examination of the film show that the ejection of the minigun was not changed. Enjoy the movie and “stick around.”

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