Tilapia Baked en Papillote with a French Vinaigrette

  • By Jess Dang
  • October 25, 2012

Tilapia Baked en Papillote with a French Vinaigrette by Cook Smarts

If there is one fish recipe you should know, it’s this one – baked fish en papillote. It’s delicious, fool-proof, healthy, easy, budget-friendly, and fun. Does that check all the necessary boxes? Oh, did I mention it’s easy? There is minimal prep and then it all goes into the oven, out of your sight for 10 minutes. You can use this time to sip a glass of wine, de-stress while enjoying the new smells emanating from your oven, or make a quick salad or vegetable side.

If you’ve never made chicken or fish en papillote, I highly encourage you to give it a try. It’s actually more fun than fussy. All you’re doing is creating an air-tight pouch with parchment paper (“en papillote” literally means “in parchment” in French) or aluminum foil. You remember arts and crafts hour during kindergarten where you got to cut up big pieces of colored paper and then fold it into cool things? Well, this will be a throwback to those days. If you have kids, invite them into the kitchen to help. They’ll be able to teach you a thing or two about cutting along the lines and folding I’m sure.

Alright, back to our recipe . . . I like to make this dish with tilapia because it’s available at any grocery store and not an expensive way to include fish in your diet (just make sure your tilapia is from the right places for the best benefits). Since tilapia is rather bland, it’s perfect for baking en papillote. It gets infused with the flavors you put into the pouch and ends up juicy and tender. You can doctor this up with lots of different flavors, but the recipe I’m sharing today features a classic French vinaigrette consisting of Dijon mustard, shallots, sherry or red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Double the vinaigrette portion, and you have a salad dressing that goes well with just about any type of salad. Tres intelligent?

If you’d like to see a video demo on how to fold the parchment pouches, click on the video below:

Fish {Tilapia} Baked en Papillote with a French Vinaigrette
Prep time
8 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Total time
18 mins
Serves: 4
  • Tilapia (or other hearty fish) – 4 4 to 6 oz. fillets (1 to 1.5 lbs.)
  • Shallots – ~1/2 bulb
  • Lemon – 1
  • Parchment paper / aluminum foil
  • Red wine / sherry vinegar – 2 tbs.
  • Dijon mustard – 2 tsp.
  • Sweetener (e.g., maple syrup) – ½ tsp.
  • Olive oil – 4 tbs.
  • Thyme – 4 sprigs
  1. Fish – Rinse and dry with paper towels
  2. Shallots – Mince
  3. Lemon – Slice into rounds
  4. Parchment paper – Tear out 4 sheets, about 18″ wide. Stack, fold in half, and then cut into angular heart shapes (diagram below)
  5. Diagram for how to fold fish en papillote by Cook Smarts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Make French vinaigrette by combining chopped shallots, Dijon mustard, vinegar, sweetener, and a pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil
  3. Open up your parchment paper and place fillet onto one half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spoon ¼th of the vinaigrette onto fish. Top with thyme sprig and 1 to 2 slices of lemon
  4. Form pouch by closing the other half over and making small folds along the open border of your heart-shaped cut out to form an airtight seal (See diagram above or video). Repeat for the remaining fillets
  5. Place folded parchment paper pouches onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes
  6. Let each person open his / her pouch up for an awesome surprise!
  1. minutes is the perfect amount of time to make this sauteed fennel & green bean dish on the side
  2. Double the vinaigrette and toss half of it with vegetables (e.g., green beans, sliced mushrooms, leafy greens), and cook them right in the pouch too for a truly 1-pouch meal

For more en papillote recipes, click here



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