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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fish parcels deliver flavorful entree

 •  A slice of competition

By Linda Gassenheimer
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Fragrant fish parcels can be served with pearl barley on the side. Any type of white fish works well.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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A great way to cook fish is to steam it in parcels. Here's a simple recipe that never fails. The fish, sealed in the packet with wine and a bouquet of vegetables and herbs, steams in its own juices absorbing all the natural flavors.

The packets can be served directly at the table or opened in the kitchen and served onto individual plates. I like to have each person open his own at the table so the first whiff can be savored as the parcel is opened. Once the package is ready, the cooking time is only 5 minutes.

Barley is an ancient grain known to have been cultivated in Neolithic times. Today, barley is used mostly for stews and soups, but it is very good simply boiled, seasoned and served as an alternative to rice. This pearl barley will take about 30 minutes to make. Start it first and then make the fish dish. It can also be microwaved. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high 20 minutes. No time for barley? Use a quick cooking rice instead.

This meal contains 554 calories per serving with 27 percent of calories from fat.

Helpful hints:

• Vermouth can be substituted for the wine.

• Any type of white fish can be used such as tilapia, mahi or sole.

• Shredded carrots can be found in the produce section of the market.


• 3 teaspoons olive oil

• 1 cup shredded carrots

• 1 cup frozen diced or chopped onion

• 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

• 2 circles parchment paper or aluminum foil, about 10 inches in diameter

• 2 6-ounce fish fillets

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 5 to 6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

• 3 tablespoons dry white wine

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place olive oil, carrots, onion and mushrooms in a microwave-safe bowl. Toss gently. Microwave on high 2 minutes. Or, saute in a skillet 5 minutes. Divide the vegetables between the two parchment paper or foil circles. Place one fish fillet on top of each of the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place basil leaves on top of fish. Spoon wine over the fish. Close the parcels and seal the edges together. Place the parcels on a baking tray. Bake 8 minutes if using parchment paper, 12 minutes if using foil. The fish is done when it is no longer translucent. Serve the par-cels on individual plates. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 318 calories (26 percent from fat), 9.3 g fat (1.5 g saturated, 5.4 g monounsaturated), 60 mg cholesterol, 39.6 g protein, 17.1 g carbohydrates, 4.4 g fiber, 142 mg sodium


• 1/4 cup pearl barley

• 4 cups water

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place barley and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 20 minutes or until barley is soft. Drain and add the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 236 calories (28 percent from fat), 7.3 g fat ( 1.1 g saturated, 5.1 g monounsaturated), no mg cholesterol, 5.0 g protein, 38.9 g carbohydrates, 7.8 g fiber, 5 mg sodium