Roasted Sustainable Arctic Char with Simple Risotto-Style Rice


If you have one large, beautiful fillet of fish you just have to roast it—skin-side up, of course, so the fat bastes the flesh as it cooks. Coat it in crushed almonds, salt, pepper, ground fennel, and seal the moisture in (and make the coating stick) with a thin layer of Dijon, and you’ll be asking me to marry you in no time. So far, no one who’s made that offer has followed through, but I’m hopeful.

And if they don’t? More fish for me. Win-win, right?

About the rice: risotto seems fancy. It’s not. In this version you don’t even stir it forever and ever. It’s “risotto-style” because you dump in more liquid than you should at one time and let it get creamy all on its own. The slightly pink colour here came from the shallots I used, not red wine. And the broccoli’s there (it was steamed) on the side because green never went astray on a dinner plate. Maybe that’s why those marriage offers are always rescinded (never in so many words), because of my belief in green? Well, one day, when someone falls in love with both my fish and my broccoli (and maybe even my fake risotto *cue birds singing*), he’ll be a keeper.

‘Til then, more for me.


Roasted Sustainable Arctic Char with Simple Risotto-Style Rice
You can cut the large char fillet into individual portions in advance, but it’s juicier if you roast it whole and don’t mind if it isn’t as beautiful when you cut it after and plate it. Your tongue will appreciate it.

Risotto-Style Rice
1 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice (or another medium or short grain. It won’t be as creamy but it’ll be fine. And since you’re already cheating…)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock, warmed

Heat oil over medium heat and when hot add shallots and garlic. Stir for 5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add white wine and stir 30 seconds. Add half the warm stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 minutes, stirring when you think about it, but not worrying about it. Add remaining warm stock and cook 10 minutes more. Check that the rice is done. It should be creamy. If it’s not done add more water if needed and cook until al dente. You can also evaporate off excess liquid if necessary. Make this in advance as it can sit while the fish is roasting.

Roasted Char
1 large fillet sustainable arctic char or sustainable salmon (about 2 lbs), or several smaller fillets (if smaller, roast for much less time, until just before flaky)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground fennel seed
2 tbsp crushed almonds

20 minutes before the risotto is ready, preheat oven to 350°F. Wash and dry fillet. Coat both sides with Dijon. Combine salt, pepper and fennel and sprinkle over both sides of fish. Place fish on baking sheet skin side up and gently press nuts onto skin. Roast 15 minutes for thick fillets or 10 for thin fillets. Place directly under broiler under low heat for 3-5 minutes, until nuts are toasted but not blackened.

How to Steam the Broccoli (just in case…)

3 cups broccoli florets and peeled stems

10 minutes before you want to eat, bring a pot of water to a boil. Place broccoli in steamer basket and steam (or boil if you don’t have a steamer) until sweet and soft but not mushy (about 7 minutes).


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