A good friend who comes over often for dinner says that although he’s eaten many great meals at my home, this is the best yet. Every time I make it, my guests scrape their plate, (actually, their parchment) clean.
When it comes to ease, dinner doesn’t get much easier than this. Prep the packets ahead and just pop them into the oven when ready to eat. And clean-up is a breeze. No messy pots or pans to wash.
Any recipe I come across that calls for Thai curry paste goes into my ‘Definitely Try” folder. The paste has so much flavor that it needs very few other ingredients for it to shine. In this case, only one other ingredient: butter.
Thai Red Curry Paste
If you want to make your own Thai red curry paste you’ll need coriander, peppercorns, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, cilantro, shallot, garlic, fresh chiles, and soaked dried chiles. Or, you can go on-line or into an Asian market (if you are lucky enough to live near one) and for under $5.00 purchase a package that will make this recipe at least 40 times. And once you buy it, you’ll find it’s also great on other foods. For example, mix it with a little butter, garlic and lime zest and rub it between the skin and the meat on chicken pieces before cooking them.
About the mushrooms
I tried this recipe with oyster and trumpet mushrooms and love their delicate flavor and texture with the halibut. But that doesn’t in any way mean you are limited to them. Any mushrooms, button, cremini, baby bellas, absolutely any of them will be good with this dish.
About the fish
Any flaky white fish may be substituted for the halibut. Cut fillets into thick pieces, each about 5 to 6 ounces. Try to keep the thickness of each fillet the same, although the weight of the fish may vary from packet to packet. If you wish to make some of the packets larger than others, simply mark the parchment with an initial to remind you whom it is for. No one will see it once you cut the packets open. No matter the size of the fish, it always cooks through in 13 to 14 minutes, as long as the thickness is similar.
So follow my how-to photos, wrap up your fish and present your guests with a gift they will long remember.
Thai-Curry Butter Halibut Packets
6 tablespoons. butter, softened + 1 tablespoon, divided
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste, or less for a less spicy sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced
8 to 10 oz. mixture of trumpet and oyster mushrooms, quartered if large (about 4 cups)
4 (5 to 6-oz.) skinless halibut fillets or similar flaky white fish
Freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup), including about 3-inches of green tops
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
Rice, for serving
1. Mix 6 Tbs. of the butter, the curry paste, and garlic in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 450°F.
2. Melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to medium. cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3 Cut four sheets of parchment paper into 15-inch lengths. Fold in half and cut each into a heart, about 15” high x 8” wide. Divide the mushrooms among the sheets of parchment, centering them in the right half of the parchment near the fold. Season the halibut with salt and pepper and place on top of the mushrooms. Top each with an equal portion of the curry butter, and sprinkle with the scallions and a pinch of salt.
4. To seal the packets, bring the left edge of the parchment over the fish. Fold and crimp the edges together tightly. Carefully transfer the packets to a large rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the fish is cooked through, 12 to 13 minutes (a paring knife will come out warm when plunged through the packet into the center of one of the fillets). Carefully transfer the packets to dinner plates and cut them open in the kitchen or at the table. Serve with lime wedges and pass a bowl of rice.
Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.