Short on time and needing fresh dinner inspiration? Look no further than fish cooked in parchment paper—or, in this case, fish cooked in foil packets. It’s a classic cooking technique that’s healthier and mess-free. Moroccan fish, couscous might just become a regular recipe in your dinner rotation.
Fish Cooked in Parchment Paper with a Twist
Using parchment paper to cook fish is a technique also known as “en papillote.” This method places the fish inside with tucking the edges of the paper so it resembles a packet. Inside the fish cooks from the steam created by the packets. For this recipe by Cook’s Country, we’re using foil instead of parchment.
A helpful hack—mark an “X” on the outside of the foil where the fish fillet is the thickest, then insert an instant-read thermometer through the “X” into the fish to measure its internal temperature.
Catfish, flounder, or sole can be used in place of the tilapia, but you may need to tuck the tapered ends under to achieve a more uniform thickness for even cooking. For catfish, start checking for doneness at 26 minutes; for flounder, start checking for doneness at 16 minutes; for sole, start checking for doneness at 23 minutes.
Moroccan Fish, Couscous Included
Cook’s Country took this idea and added another element that’s genius: couscous! Couscous is a tiny pasta that cooks by steaming. So, adding uncooked couscous to the packets makes sense—and makes each packet a complete meal.
Cue Up the Flavor
Chermoula, a heady Moroccan spice and herb mixture, flavors with fish, while honey-sweet figs complement the tender couscous. For this recipe, we use Sun-Maid and Orchard Choice Golden Figs—their delicately sweet, nutty, and tangy flavor pair beautifully with the fish and couscous. You could also use Mission Figs.
For an accurate measurement of boiling water, bring a full kettle of water to a boil and then measure out the desired amount.
Weeknight-Easy Dinner: Fish Cooked in Parchment Paper / Foil
For an effortless meal, we pair quick-cooking tilapia and lemony couscous and bake them in foil packets which means clean-up is a breeze.
Moroccan Fish, Couscous Packets with Figs + Chermoula
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro , divided
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 TBSP grated fresh ginger
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 4 garlic cloves , minced
- 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest , divided, + 2 TBSP juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt , divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper , divided
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups couscous
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup finely chopped Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs
- 4 (6-8 oz) skinless tilapia filets , 3/4-inch thick
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine 6 tablespoons cilantro, oil, ginger, paprika, garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, sugar, and pepper flakes in a bowl; set chermoula aside.
- Combine couscous, ½ teaspoon salt, and boiling water in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork, stir in figs and remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Lay four 16 by 12-inch rectangles of aluminum foil on counter with short sides parallel to the counter edge. Divide couscous evenly among foil rectangles, arranging in the center of the lower half of each foil sheet. Pat tilapia dry with paper towels and sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place tilapia on top of couscous and spoon 1 tablespoon chermoula on top of each fillet; reserve remaining chermoula for serving. Fold top half off oil over fish and couscous, then tightly crimp edges into rough 9 by 6-inch packets.
- Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet (they may overlap slightly) and bake until fish registers 135 degrees F, 22 to 28 minutes. Carefully open packets, allowing steam to escape away from you. Using a thin metal spatula, gently slide couscous and tilapia onto individual plates, then sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. Serve with remaining chermoula.