There are no more virgin oceans. According to a recent study, we humans have reached our filthy fingers into every available body of water in search of fish. I guess the mantra of “eat less meat and more fish” is working. Over the past 50 years, the number of available fish species including cod, tuna and salmon have been depleted by two-thirds as a result of overfishing. Wow I say… but there is a way to reverse the damage (yes it involves tasty arctic char, pictured below)…
There are plenty of food friendly fish like this one in the sea (and an app for that) that are both healthy for us, and healthy for the greater ecological system. And when I say sea, I really mean aquafarms – land-based operations that raise fish in sustainable fashion. No ruining the ocean floor with invasive nets, no forcing fish into extinction, no upsetting the natural habitats. And oh yes, that tasty arctic char. It is mostly farmed in the United States, and rated a “best choice” for sustainability by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
On a lighter note, I think the name is a funny oxymoron – when you hear arctic you think cold, but when you hear char you think hot. My kind of fish – one with a personality. And a pink-fleshed fish with a mild salmonesque flavor that pairs great with a plethora of side dishes, and white wine cream sauce with grapes. Yep, grapes. I don’t remember where I picked up this fruit and fish pairing, but it is rich, tart and sweet all at once. A perfect balance of flavors. One the oceans will thank you for eating. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself, too, for making it.
- Arctic char fillets, skin on (about 5 ounces per person)
- Sweet potato gratin
- Mesclun mix or similar mixed greens, 1 cup per person
- Basic Vinaigrette
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup balsamic or sherry or red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs honey
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Muscadet
- 1 each bay leaf
- 1 Tbs black peppercorns
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh tarragon, chopped
- ½ cup red seedless grapes, halved
- 1 ea lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish
- Combine all ingredients and whisk together. Set aside until ready to dress salad greens.
- In a small saucepan combine white wine, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add heavy cream and reduce to about one cup. Strain through a mesh sieve and return to pot over low heat to keep warm.
- Season arctic char with salt and pepper, and dust with flour (Wondra brand recommended). Pour enough canola oil into a large sauté pan to film the bottom, and bring to medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add fish skin side down and cook until well browned.
- Flip fish and cook until the flesh is flaky and opaque.
- Add grapes and chopped herbs to sauce and warm through, season to taste with salt and black pepper and drizzle over char. Serve with lemon wedges, sweet potato gratin and mixed greens tossed with vinaigrette.