This is one of my favorite dishes to cook. It tastes fantastic and requires a minimum culinary skill level. Arctic Char is also a sustainable fish and it is also eco-friendly.
The Arctic Char is closely related to both Salmon and Trout. It is a fresh water fish that is found in extremely cold waters. The species does not affect its environment much by the feeding process and is actually known to cannibalize its population at times, which helps in keeping an eco-system in balance.
The flesh ranges from pink to pale red. The taste is similar to Salmon, although not as assertive. It also high in Omega-3 fatty acids and is an excellent source of protein. The Char is usually cooked in the traditional methods used for thicker varieties of fishes; pan sauté, broil or grilling, but the way the I most prefer this fruit of the sea prepared is slow roasting. The flavors become more subtle and rich; it becomes beautiful in its simplicity. I also prefer to stay simple in the accoutrements on the plate. I served this dish last time with fried potatoes, braised turnip greens and orange gastrique. The bright, racy sauce adds some balance from the acidity while the potatoes and greens add a nice earthy component.
Let’s gather our ingredients
2 8oz. fillets of Arctic Char
4 large potatoes
Whole turnips (with the tops still attached)
4 Cara Cara oranges
8 0z. White vinegar (rice, white wine, etc.)
Bacon or salt pork (can be omitted)
1 oven safe casserole dish
1 medium stock pot
1 medium sauce pan
1 medium deep sauté pan
Peel potatoes and cut into parallelograms (the size of jenga pieces), boil water (salted), combine flour, salt and white pepper. Cook the potatoes in the boiling water until halfway done, you can tell by pushing the tines of a fork into the pieces, when the times go about halfway in without any effort, they are ready. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. When the potatoes are done, immerse them into the ice bath, thus stopping the cooking process. After the potatoes have completely cooled, remove them and pat them dry with a paper towel. Next, roll the potatoes in the seasoned flour until completely covered.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cut the fish crosswise into 4-6 oz. pieces. Rub the fish liberally with olive oil, then dust with the kosher salt and white pepper. Place the fish into an oven safe casserole dish, after the oven reaches the desired temperature, place the casserole dish on one of the baking racks and cook for 25 minutes.
Using a juicer, juice the Cara Cara oranges, make sure to filter out the pulp with cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. Combine and equal amount of orange juice and vinegar into a deep sauté pan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. When reduced by two thirds it is done.
Trim the greens from the turnips and wash thoroughly. Cut the turnips into small chunks and wash thoroughly. Put the greens and turnip pieces into a stock pot with vegetable stock. The veg stock should just cover the solids in the pot. Next put in a good amount of butter. Bring the pot to a boil. While the pot is boiling, brown the salt pork or bacon and cut into medium size pieces.
Put a pot of oil on to boil, after it is thoroughly heated, gently place the potatoes into the hot oil using kitchen tongs. Once the outsides are completely crisped, remove and place on paper towels.
Once the liquid has boiled, put the pork in and stir, next, reduce to a simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes. When the greens and turnips are tender, strain, remove and pat dry.
Place the potatoes on the plate in a “raft” or “Lincoln log” pattern. The “raft” will simply be four or five in a row, nestled next to each other, “Lincoln log” refers to a two by two or three by three stacking of the items. Next, place the Char on top of the potatoes. Using your tongs, place a pile of the greens and turnip pieces next to the fish and potatoes. Finally, using a saucing spoon or a squeeze bottle, drizzle the sauce around the plate in whatever pattern looks pleasant to you.
My favorite pairing with the dish would be Rose Champagne, although there are several other wines that work just as well. I also recommend full bodied white wines such as White Burgundies or new world Chardonnay, also try full bodied Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley or South Africa
Gattanois Rose Champagne (France) $57
Saumaizer-Michelin Macon-Vergisson ‘La Roche’ (France) $23
Baumard Savenniers (France) $26
Raats Chenin Blanc ‘Original’ (South Africa) $16
Selby Chardonnay (California) $25