Looking for a solution for busy weeknight dinners or entertaining? There’s something special and festive about opening a paper pouch at the table and releasing a cloud of fragrant aromas.
A classic way to do this is by gently steaming shrimp with a method called cooking en papillote (French for “in parchment”). The method has no added fat and uses steam within the paper pouch to cook food quickly and gently. The method also preserves the nutritional value of foods. And cleanup is as easy as throwing away the used parchment paper.
½ lb shrimp (16-20 shrimp of 31/35 or 36/40 count); not frozen, heads off, and peeled or unpeeled
Choice of aromatic vegetables, such as one onion, a generous bunch of scallions or cilantro, stalks of lemongrass, etc.
Old Bay Seasoning (or other seasoning of choice)
1-2 tbsp white wine
Parchment paper (white and 15″ wide)
9″ round plate
Center a roughly square piece of parchment paper on the plate. Rinse and roughly slice aromatic vegetables as needed and place in center of paper to form a bed for the shrimp and with using the plate as a guide.
Rinse/wash and pat dry the shrimp with paper towels. Arrange as one layer on vegetables. Generously sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning on the shrimp.
Center a second square piece of parchment paper on the first, and roughly round the corners off the two sheets of paper with scissors.
Folding the paper to form the pouch: pick a side of the two sheets and fold them over about ¼ to ½ inch from the edge, pressing and flattening to make a crisp crease. Continue the folding until reaching the edge of the plate. Move slightly to one side of the fold and start folding at the papers edge until reaching the edge of the plate, and overlapping with the first fold like a pleat. Move again and repeat the process; continue this way around the plate forming overlapping folds until only one to two folds remain. Add the wine through the opening into the pouch before finishing the final fold and then press firmly to tightly seal the pouch. Press again around all folds to ensure a tight seal. (You can also look online for en papillote)
Lift the paper pouch from the plate and place into an Aroma Grillet, gently pressing on the shrimp to ensure good contact between the pouch and the Grillet bottom. The folds will be against the sides of the Grillet and bent upwards. Cover and set temperature to 275° F and a timer for 10-15 minutes (depending on size and temperature of the shrimp; if in doubt, cook a little longer). Return after a few minutes and watch through the glass as the steam inflates the pouch! And you will be able to faintly see the shrimp turn ‘pink’ through the white paper, which may darken a little during cooking.
After cooking is complete, carefully remove pouch from Grillet and place on serving dish. The center of the pouch will be like a dome. Snip it with a pair of scissors, being careful of any escaping steam. Enjoy the aroma before cutting the paper completely open to reach shrimp!
Over To You
What’s your version of cooking in paper? Share and inspire us.