The secret ingredient to this easy and flavorful weeknight fish dish is one that you might be tossing into the compost — an orange peel. I first learned about this flavoring technique from my uncle Hemant, our family’s designated seafood cook, who is always experimenting with weeknight fish recipes. The guy has encrusted fish with every seasoning imaginable — garlic achaar, mustard oil, even crushed up Cheez-Its (surprisingly, Cheez-It fish is not bad at all). But by far my uncle’s most ingenious idea was to chop up the peel of a clementine and use it as a crust on fish. The peel, with its distinctly sweet, sharp flavor, lends brightness, texture and aromatics. In this recipe, it gets mixed up into a paste alongside other vivifying and balancing ingredients: garlic, ginger, turmeric and green chilies. And the “en papillote” cooking method — wrapping the fish in foil or parchment and letting it slowly steam in the oven — is a foolproof route to buttery fillets every time. Don’t forget the critical step of spooning the juices that pool around the cooked fish over the top for even more flavor.
Swap option: This recipe calls for sea bass, but any flaky white fish, like cod or haddock, will do you just fine.
Place the fish on a paper towel and pat dry.2.
In a small bowl, stir together the oil, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chile and salt into a paste. Using half of the paste, coat one side of each fillet.3.
Spread a 2-foot sheet of foil out on the counter. Place all the fish fillets on one half of the foil, paste-side down. Coat the other side of the fillets with the remaining paste, making sure to evenly cover the entire surface area of the fish. Evenly sprinkle the clementine peel over the top of each fillet. Fold the other half of the foil over the fish, then fold each side over three times to seal the foil into a pouch. Refrigerate the pouch for 30 minutes.4.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.5.
Transfer the pouch to a baking sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets, then turn off the oven and let the fish sit in the oven for 1 minute more — the pouch should have puffed up at this point.6.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the pouch cool down for a minute, then unseal the sides of the pouch (be careful of the hot steam inside!). Serve each fillet with a lime wedge for spritzing and spoon the juices from the foil pouch over the top.
Excerpted from Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family © 2019 by Priya Krishna with Ritu Krishna. Photography © 2019 by Mackenzie Kelley. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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