The Denver-based angler and chef Alex Figura takes a bartender’s approach to cooking the bream he catches. By sneaking a flavored ice cube into sealed parchment-paper packets of fish and vegetables—Figura is fond of grapefruit juice and white wine—he allows the fish to steam slowly, all the while absorbing the clean, citric flavors. It’s a cool, unfussy (and super-healthy) trick that will work with any kind of fish and any kind of flavorings. (For thicker fish, lengthen the cooking time by a few minutes.) You can also cook the packets on a grill—just lay some foil underneath to prevent flames from igniting the parchment.
4 to 8 bream or crappie fillets (enough for 4 servings)
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
1 cup baby potatoes, or larger potatoes cut into
1 cup radishes, halved
1 cup other vegetables (chopped or baby carrots, green beans, peas)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 sprigs fresh thyme
11⁄2 cups olive oil, divided
1⁄2 lemon, sliced
1 egg white, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Juice the grapefruit. You should end up with about a cup of juice, more or less. Combine this with the wine, then pour the mixture into an ice-cube tray. Keep in the freezer until frozen.
2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lay out four 16-inch lengths of parchment paper on a work surface.
3. Set the fillets on one side of each piece of parchment, so the parchment can be folded over to make a packet. Divide the vegetables evenly among the four, piling them around the fillets. (Tip: Chop the vegetables the size of your thumbnail or smaller, so they finish cooking at the same time as the fish does.) To each pile, add a garlic clove and a sprig of thyme, drizzle on about 3 Tbsp. olive oil, and top with the lemon slices. Salt and pepper generously.
4. Put one or two of the ice cubes on each packet. Brush the edges of the parchment with the beaten egg and then fold it over, using the egg white as a kind of sealing glue.
5. Arrange the packets on two sheet pans, and place in the oven. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Move the packets onto plates and serve immediately. Use scissors or a knife to cut them open, with caution, as steam may burst out. Serves 4
Drink Pairing: Just Add Ice
You’re likely to have some of the grapefruit-wine ice cubes left over. You can save them for more fish—or better yet, put them to use in a cocktail. Pile two or three cubes in a glass, add gin, rum, or vodka (Campari is also a fine choice), then top with a squirt of club soda. Wine drinkers should reach for sauvignon blanc—the 2014 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand has just the right succulence and grapefruit aromas to make it a killer pairing.—J.M.