I like to think of Arctic char as sort of salmon “light”. It’s very similar in taste and texture to salmon and closely related to both salmon and lake trout. It’s a little less oily than salmon and the taste is milder. It’s as versatile as salmon too — I’ve grilled it, sautéed it, steamed it, cured it gravlax-style, and made it into a burger. For this recipe I pan-roasted a skin-on filet of Arctic char and served it with a tangerine pan-sauce over some broccolini and a crispy cake of red quinoa, multi-grain sticky rice, purple potatoes, and yellow cauliflower. It’s a well-balanced, very yummy dish and full of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and proteins.
You’ll notice in the course of the recipe that I’m only making a single dish and haven’t measured it out for multiple plates for your convenience. It’s because I was cooking it solely for myself today and as such, I didn’t really think about exact portioning. The grains and veggie cake quantities I provide will make enough for four to six portions. Use the instructions and tips for everything else and just double, triple, or quadruple the amounts for the number of people you make this for.
To make the crispy grain & veggie cake do the following.
- Steam a half-cup of cauliflower (I used this beautiful yellow variety) that’s cut into smallish pieces about a third of an inch wide.
- Steam two small (about 2-inches long) purple potatoes that have been peeled and cut into pieces roughly a half-inch square. You’ll end up with about a half-cup.
- Cook a little red quinoa according to package instructions. You need a third of a cup.
- Boil some short grain brown rice. It should be overcooked and sticky, so it can act as a binder for all the other ingredients. You’ll need about a cup of this rice. OR, you can cheat like I did and use a single package of Annie Chun’s Multi-Grain Sticky Rice, which is microwavable in 90 seconds and contains a great combination of brown rice, black rice, and millet. I attached a link to Annie Chun if you want to have a look at this product. It’s widely available.
- Mince one tablespoon each of fresh cilantro and fresh chives.
Line a small sheet pan or baking dish with parchment paper or wax paper. I like to spray a little PAM on the sheet pan so that the paper sticks. Once you’ve laid down the paper spray the top surface of the paper with more PAM. Pile the cooked grains mixture on the paper and sort of spread it out until it’s in a uniform layer about an inch thick. Spray a little more PAM on the surface of the grains mixture and top it with another sheet of paper.
Pressing gently on the top sheet of paper flatten the mixture until it’s about a half-inch thick. Refrigerate the cake mixture for at least a half hour. Peel the top layer of paper off and with a sharp knife cut the mixture into squares about 3 inches on a side. Keep the cake squares cool until you’re ready to cook them.
Meanwhile, cut some broccolini into two-inch lengths and blanch in boiling salted water for two minutes. Drain and immediately drop the broccolini into an ice water bath to halt the cooking process. After a couple of minutes, remove them and drain on paper towels to dry them well. Keep at room temperature; you’ll need the broccolini soon.
It’s also a good time to squeeze some fresh tangerine juice. You’ll need about a quarter cup for up to four portions of fish. You can use orange juice, Meyer lemon juice, or apple juice as substitutes.
Now, to prepare the Arctic Char!
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut fish into individual portions and with a very sharp knife cut a few slits in the skin. This will help to prevent the skin from cooking unevenly and separating from the flesh of the fish filet. Dry the fish well with paper towels and season the filets generously with cracked black pepper and some good fleur de sel (pricey coarse sea salt) or kosher salt.
Heat an oven-proof non-stick pan or skillet over high heat. When the pan is super-hot, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is just about smoking add the fish skin-side down, briefly pressing gently with a spatula to make sure that the skin contacts the pan evenly. Cook the fish, untouched, for about three or four minutes or until the skin becomes uniformly crisp.
Meanwhile, heat another non-stick pan on another burner over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, swirl in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Gently add the grain & veggie cakes. Sear until the bottom is nice and crunchy and then flip it and cook the other side the same way. When both sides are crisp turn off the heat. You can hold the grain & veggie cakes in that same pan until you serve.
If the Arctic has finished cooking on the skin-side, flip the fish and add the cooked broccolini to the pan. Put the pan into the oven. Cook the fish for another three or four minutes and then remove the pan from the oven.
Now, to assemble and finish the Pan-Roasted Arctic Char with Crispy Grain & Veggie Cake, Broccolini, and Tangerine Pan Sauce!
- Place crisped cakes in the center of warmed plates.
- Top with a few pieces of cooked broccolini.
- Top broccolini with cooked fish, skin-side up.
- Heat the pan that you cooked the fish in over high heat and add the tangerine juice. When the juice begins to boil add a tablespoon or two of room temperature butter to the pan and whisk vigorously until the butter fully melts. Turn off heat.
- Drizzle warm tangerine sauce all around the grain & veggie cake. Maybe a little over the fish if you desire.
- Add a few slivers of scallion greens for garnish and taste, if you like.
- Eat up and enjoy!
I had a lovely glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc to accompany this fish dish. And this fish dish was delish!
Annie Chun’s Multi-Grain Sticky Rice: http://www.anniechun.com/our-food/rice-express/multi-grain