Healthy fish and fresh veggies are lightly sauced with a garlic, herb, caper, and beer reduction in this healthy and quick Mexican Fish in Parchment! Jump to the recipe here, or read on and you’ll find it at the bottom of the post!
What do you think of when you hear the words "Mexican food?" Gooey cheese enchiladas, manteca-laden tamales, fried taquitos? Having recently moved from one border town (Las Cruces) to another (McAllen), I feel the time has come to dispel this notion of unhealthy Mexican food. I am bringing a variety of healthy Mexican-inspired dishes to my readers like Nopalitos and Red Chile Rice Bowls, Mexican Green Chile and Shrimp Pizza, and Lengua Tacos With Salsa Verde and Caramelized Onions... Mexican Fish In Parchment takes it a step further in this very low fat, high protein, and flavorful fish recipe!
Mexican food is far more varied than people think. It changes like dialects. I was brought up in Jalisco by the sea on a basic diet - tomatoes, chillis, peppers of every size and rice, which is a Mexican staple. The Pacific coast has a huge array of seafood.
~~ Gael Garcia Bernal, Mexican film actor, director, and producer
You may recall I introduced culinary parchment cooking bags in my post Mediterranean Fish In Parchment With spring Vegetables. The bags make prep and clean up so quick, and yield a moist and healthy one dish meal. For this Mexican-style preparation, I chose cousa squash (a short, squat variety of zucchini), red bell pepper, fresh corn, and jalapeños. Wild-caught rock fish have been very fresh and inexpensive at my local market, so I chose 2 generous fillets. Leftover fish isn't tasty IMHO, so make note of the fact that unlike many of my recipes, this one serves only 2 adults! Keep in mind that the method is what is important here, and once you know how to do this, you can substitute your favorites. Cooking fish in parchment is quick, so the key is to choose accompanying ingredients with that in mind. 🙂
My fish fillets were about an inch thick, so the cooking time was only 10-12 minutes at 425°. A good rule of thumb for cooking fish in parchment (en papillote in French) is 10 minutes per inch thickness. The packet traps the steam - and all of the wonderful, fresh flavors - inside. Knowing my fish would only require 10 minutes in the oven, I opted to use the julienne attachment on my mandolin to ensure consistently thin slices. This worked really well, but you can certainly use your excellent knife skills to julienne the vegetables. 😀 My husband Mark grilled the corn for me. I love to maximize flavors in my recipes, and the caramelized bits of corn add depth to the dish. You can substitute, frozen corn or even just cut corn off the ear and add it uncooked to the packets. To provide a bit of heat to the dish, I added a couple of jalapeños, and finally, I garnished the cooked packets with a lime wedge and fresh cilantro.
The flavorful addition of a cerveza (beer), caper, and herb reduction really makes this dish. Sauté half a yellow onion, garlic, cumin, and Mexican oregano until the onion is transparent but not browned. Pour the beer into the pan, add the capers, and cook on medium-high heat until reduced to about ⅓ in volume. You only want about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid in each packet, or your fish and veggies will be boiled not steamed! After the fish and veggies are in the parchment bags, simply spoon half the sauce over the contents of each packet. Cook about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. You can check for doneness by sticking a bamboo skewer through the bag and into the fish. If you meet with any resistance, pop the pan back into the oven for a couple of minutes. See How to Fold and Cook Fish in Parchment for more information. I will eventually make my own video on this technique, as it has become one of my favorite methods for quick, healthy weeknight meals...
Mark and I were completely satisfied with just our fish packet. Should you want something more, fresh tortillas and/or green rice would be excellent alongside. We really enjoyed a crisp rosé with a bit of citrus on the finish - a perfect accompaniment to the fish. A saison or a light, citrusy pale ale (like Lagunitas Citrusensis) would be nice as well. Here's to more healthy and flavorful Mexican cooking! Salud! (Cheers) 😀
Mexican Fish in Parchment
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
- ½ onion - finely chopped
- ½ cup tiny tomatoes - such as cherub
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 12 ounce bottle of light beer - tecate, modelo, etc.
- 2 tablespoons capers
- a sprinkle of sea salt
- several grinds pepper
- 1 squash - julienned*
- 1 bell pepper - julienned
- 1 ear corn - kernels removed*
- 2 jalapenos*
- 2 firm white fish fillets*
- lime wedges and fresh cilantro to garnish
- * See Notes
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees (400 convection roast).
- In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When it is hot (not smoking), add the onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Cook until onion is translucent - about 2 minutes - stirring occasionally.
- Add the Mexican oregano, cumin, beer, and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until liquid is reduced to only about ⅓. You need about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid for each packet.
- While the beer reduces, prep the vegetables, season with a bit of sea salt and a few grinds of pepper. Toss to combine.
- Rinse and pat the fish fillets dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the vegetables in individual bags or packets.* Place the fish on top, and carefully spoon in half of the sauce over the fish and veggies. Seal the bag, and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fish fillet and veggies.
- Cook 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. My 1" thick fillets needed only 10 minutes. When I've used thicker sea bass fillets, it required the full 15.
- You can either serve the dish in its packet or remove the contents and plate. The bottoms of the parchment will be wet, so use a large spatula to get them out of the pan and onto the plates. Carefully cut an "X" in the top. Garnish with a lime wedge and chopped cilantro.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
What do you think of flaking the fish when it is done and then serving with tortilla chips as an appetizer?
I need a Mexican appetizer to take to a dinner party and this sounds so good! Also, what do you think about preparing the pouch and then baking once I arrive at the party?
Hi Julie! I think it'd be worth giving it a try 🙂 Make sure you use a fish that flakes easily... It does need to be eaten right out of the oven, so the idea of preparing the pouch and cooking it at the party is a good one. Let me know how it works out!
Keith @ How's it Lookin? says
Looks so good. I should start eating more fish, thanks a lot
Just added parchment to the grocery list! Love cooking in parchment and this dish looks like a perfect combination of ingredients for this method of cooking. A complete meal in a bag.
Yay for cooking in parchment bags! I love the little bags I found that don't even require folding 🙂 Thanks MJ!
Mexican food is as varied as any other cuisine! These look great! Adding to the list to try.
Thanks Noel! Yes, it is as varied as any other, but if you go to a "Mexican" restaurant, you will find the usual unhealthy dishes... even in the 2 border towns we've lived in...
Sophia | Veggies Don't Bite says
I love cooking veggies in parchment! And I love the added capers you put in, such a great flavor!
Thanks Sophia! Capers are pretty common in Mexican cooking, and the flavor does go really well with cumin and oregano 🙂
Sam | Ahead of Thyme says
Wow this looks so amazing!! Looks like I will have to try this recipe, thank you!
Thanks so much, Sam!
Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily says
This is one of my favorite ways to prepare and eat seafood! Love the flavors!
What could be simpler, right?
This looks fantastic! So colorful! I have already saved this recipe! Thanks!
Thanks for stopping by, Beth!
Kim @ Three Olives Branch says
This looks and sounds so amazing! I love the Mexican flare that you put into this, my husband would love it!
Well, you need to keep your husband happy, so you'd better make it for him 😉 Thanks Kim!
What a beautiful and healthy dish. I would have never thought to add beer to this dish but why not... I bet it is awesome. Loving all of the spring veggies on top.
Haha! I've used white wine and lemon, so when I was contemplating what to use to provide moisture, I thought about beer... Twisted mind! Thanks Bobbi!