SeafoodMalia Howe

Thai Style Fish Packets

SeafoodMalia Howe
Thai Style Fish Packets

Sometimes you just need a change, and we really needed one. While we've enjoyed lots of fabulous meals recently I have gotten in that 'chicken rut'. I feel like every night begins with the preparation of chicken breasts. While beef is my true meat love, I moderate our intake because I know I could eat it every day. I have issues with fish. I adore fish, but buying it stresses me out. I watched a documentary that I remember vividly (about 7 years ago, while on the treadmill for my daily walk pregnant with my first child) depicting the horrors of farm-raised fish and the lack of regulations on imported farm-raised fish specifically. Additionally, I live in MN where I am highly skeptical of any fresh fish I might purchase because of true freshness. So, all that to say this: I buy my fish frozen (usually from Trader Joe's) and look for some buzz words: Wild caught in the USA. Sold. Now that we've gotten that out of the way I can talk about this really delicious meal that my husband dubbed "amazing". While he is generally full of compliments about our meals, he reserves "amazing" for really great ones, so you know this is good.  This meal is a piece of cake. It requires a bit of forethought (to cook the couscous that goes in the packets and cook it), but you actually can fully prepare the fish packets up to a day ahead. So guess what that means? You can turn your oven on, pop them in, and walk away for 30 minutes. And dinner is done. I served this with a simple tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar because those were the veggies I needed to use up. No magic here. Enjoy this one, friends.

Thai Style Fish Packets with Creamy Couscous

-adapted slightly from

  • 1 box of couscous (I used whole wheat couscous; next time I'm trying quinoa)
  • 1 can light or regular coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (remember that this is REALLY stinky and that's OK. But it's REALLY good and you'd be nuts to omit it)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4-6 skinless thick white fish fillets, ie hake, halibut, cod (I used the wild Alaskan Cod from Trader Joe's. The fish was super cheap, and the fillets were beautiful. I was impressed and I'll be back to stock up on this variety for sure). Thaw the fish overnight in the fridge if frozen
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • lime wedges for serving

Make the couscous according to package directions and let it cool completely. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1/3 cup room-temperature water, coconut milk, cilantro, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes.

Lay out a piece of  14- by 12-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or use two layers of regular foil) for each fish fillet. Don't measure this, just eyeball it. Lightly spray the centers of each with nonstick cooking spray. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Divide the cooled couscous evenly among each of the foil pieces, mounding it in the center of each piece. Place one fish fillet on top of the couscous and spoon about a tablespoon of the sauce over the top.

Bring the long sides of the foil together and crimp down the entire length leaving as much headroom above the fish as possible. Fold in one of the short sides and crimp tightly; repeat with the other side.

Place all of the foil packets on a large, rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate them and the remaining coconut sauce for up to 24 hours.

To serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the rimmed baking sheet with the foil packets in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (fish should flake easily with a fork and be opaque in color). Let the packets rest for about 5 minutes.
Microwave the refrigerated coconut sauce for a couple minutes until warmed through. Stir in the rice vinegar.

Transfer the fish packets to individual plates and open carefully to avoid any escaping steam. Drizzle warm sauce over the fish and couscous and serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.