Have an arctic char fillet I must use tonight! Suggestions?
- Christina D
I know that this fish is similar to salmon, but I've never cooked with it before. Any good weeknight ideas?
This is actually my favorite fish. I usually do an asian marinade (soy, ginger, sake or if I'm really pressed for time, a bottled marinande like teriyaki), I then broil it for about 5-6 minutes and serve it on either asian noodles (I like buckwheat soba) or forbidden rice (it's a black/purple rice).
I think it's somewhere between trout and salmon if that helps.
Arctic char has the most delectable skin, so I usually sear it in a non-stick skillet for 2-3 minutes on the skin side, and then just a few seconds on the flesh side. It's best when it's a little rare. Non-stick skillet is important. A regular skillet will make it stick and tear the delicate skin.
I don't like masking it with sauces and marinades. It's too good for that. You can put it over any salad, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. Below is a link to my recipe for char with fennel, orange, radish salad. You can use the beautiful blood oranges since they are in season now.
last night I made mahi in parchment. The recipe I used actually called for salmon, similar to char, so perhaps it would be a good match. It was nice w/ the mahi.
Sliced red potatoes, fennel, carrots, and green beens. Blanched the potatoes a green beans together for about 4 minutes, then separately blanced the fennel and carrots for about 2 minutes. Tossed potatos w/ garlic and a little olive oil and placed them on the parchment. Lay the seasoned fish on top. Top w/ carrots and fennel, lemon zest, fresh thyme, a squeeze of lemon and another drizzle of olive oil.
It was delicately flavored, not a knock-your-socks-off dish, but easy, clean, low fat, and nice enough for a weeknight meal. I'm planning to experiment w/ various additions...I like the en pappilotte (spelled wrong I'm sure) preparation.
Fold up parchment and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
It is actually the largest member of the trout family, most of what we get here in the US being farmed in freshwater ponds in Iceland, Greenland and Canada (and therefore usually hard to find fresh during the winter months). It is often included in that top tier of Finest Fish, as it were. It therefore deserves to be treated with respect and allowed to shine as much as possible on its own; go light with the seasonings and sauces -- it needs very little help.
re: Karl S.
Wild arctic char are also a fantastic sporting fish. I've caught them on the fly in Labrador and they were some of the best eating imaginable. I agree that less is more with char - I like to just simply grill or broil them. It's hard to improve on something that's already so very good.
From a fishery biologist's point of view, they're not trout, but, as the name indicates, char (Genus Salvelinus) - a group that includes brook and lake trout and Dolly Varden. The anatomical differences that make them char rather than trout are of interest only to zoologists (and only to some of them). Modern taxonomic research has done a number on what most of us usually think of as "trout" - as I said, brook trout are really char, rainbow trout are now recognized as a species of Pacific salmon, and brown trout have always been in the same genus as Atlantic salmon.
The largest salmonid, by the way, is probably the king (chinook) salmon which approaches 150 lbs. Arctic char likely don't exceed 30 lbs. There is a salmonid in Mongolia known as the taimen that's reputed to reach something like 100 lbs. and rise to dry flies. Now, THAT would be something to see.
Saute the lightly seasoned & floured fillet in some good butter, over medium heat. Do not be in a rush to turn it. Depending on thickness it will need 3-4 minutes on first side, cook the second side to your liking. Serve with a little more melted butter and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon.