In The Italian Kitchen, acclaimed chef and cookbook author Marco Canora teaches viewers to cook classic Italian dishes. The parchment paper creates a closed environment that prevents moisture from escaping, essentially steaming the salmon and resulting in a very moist, flavorful piece of fish. You don't have to worry about overcooking the fish a little, either -- since the moisture can't escape, the flesh won't dry out.
Marco first cuts the salmon fillet into four equal pieces (you can request that this be done for you at your fish counter). He recommends wild Alaskan salmon (a favorite among chefs and environmentalists), though any variety will do. To prepare his parchment paper packets, Marco folds four large pieces of parchment paper in half, and using a dinner plate, traces a semi circle (with the round perimeter being on the folded edge). He then cuts the semi-circle out of the four pieces, resulting in rounded rectangles that are folded in the middle like a clam shell. On one half of each piece of parchment, he rubs olive oil with his fingers, lays a few slices of lemon and sprinkles some salt. Next he lays the salmon, followed by thinly sliced shallots, pitted black olives (his are Taggiasca olives) and finely chopped parsley. Since this dish will bake in the oven for only 15 minutes, Marco reminds viewers that any ingredients added to the parchment packets must be able to cook in that time frame -- hence the thin slices and finely chopped herbs. Though Marco chooses these three flavoring ingredients, he encourages viewers to choose their favorite flavoring agents to season the salmon. He then drizzles some more olive oil and sprinkles salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lastly, he sprinkles a few drops of white wine -- no more than 5 or 10, to avoid making the parchment soggy.
To create the necessary sealed environment, Marco folds the other half of the parchment paper over the fish, and presses the upper half into the lower by making several folds around the perimeter of the circle. He gives all folds a good press to make sure the packet is well sealed, and then puts the pouches on a cookie sheet. The fish bakes in a 400 F. degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, and when it comes out of the oven, is ready to serve. You might then choose to serve the closed packets to dinner guests so each person can open his or her own bag, or, if you'd like to give the fish some final seasoning touches (Marco finishes off his fish with some fresh parsley, a squirt of lemon and sea salt), open it in the kitchen, and then serve.
Get the Recipe for Salmon in Parchment Paper.