Header image: Leite’s Culinaria

From store to kitchen to table: CHOW’s The Basics outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to dinner, without complicated techniques, methods you’ll remember and deploy at will—the most basic way to make the thing you want to make.


  • • parchment paper
  • • scissors
  • • a baking sheet
  • • one (6-ounce) firm-fleshed white-fish fillet, such as halibut, cod, or haddock (the fillet should be between 3/4 inch and 1 1/4 inches thick)
  • • olive oil
  • • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • • half a bay leaf (optional)
  • • a few sprigs of fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, tarragon, or chervil (optional)
  • • a tablespoon of butter
  • • three thin lemon slices
  • • a tablespoon of dry white wine or water

1. Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Don the Apron

2. Fold a piece of parchment paper in half and cut out a heart-shaped piece. Place the fish fillet in the center of one half of the heart—it should be large enough to allow a border measuring 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

3. Set the parchment heart on the baking sheet. Drizzle the fish with a little olive oil, rub it all over, and season with salt and pepper.

4. Lay the bay leaf and any herbs (if using) on top of the fish. Break the butter into little pieces and arrange them on top of the herbs.


5. Place the lemon slices over everything and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

6. Fold the parchment over to cover the fish—the edges of the heart should line up. Starting at the rounded end, begin crimping by folding in a 2-inch section, working all the way around the package but leaving the last 2 inches at the pointed end unfolded. Fold in another 2-inch section overlapping half of the first fold (this will seal the edges). Before sealing the last couple of inches, slightly tilt the package up and pour in the wine or water. Finish folding, then twist the pointed end around once and fold the “tail” under.

Our Last Supper

7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes for a 3/4-inch-thick fillet or 12 minutes for a 1- to 1-1/4-inch-thick fillet.

Our Last Supper

8. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the parchment package to a dinner plate. Serve immediately, cutting into the parchment tableside using scissors or a knife. Makes one serving.


Basic Fish Baked in Parchment


Steaming fish in parchment paper is a healthy, tasty way to cook it, and it’s so simple you can have it ready in less than 30 minutes. Impress dinner guests by presenting them with their very own parchment pouches. As you cut through the parchment, a puff of steam rises. Get our Basic Fish Baked in Parchment recipe.

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