Sunday, November 8, 2009

Arctic Char with Lentils and Mustard Beurre Blanc

This is another recipe (with a lousy picture, sorry) I have been meaning to post for you for a while. Arctic char is not a fish you may think of right off the bat, but it's a great fish to seek out and cook with. Char is similar to trout or salmon (they share a family tree) and can be safely substituted in most recipes calling for either. The char you will find for sale is likely farmed and will be a product of the United States, Canada, Iceland or Norway. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch site for more info on choosing sustainable seafood options.

This recipe is part of Teach a Man to Fish, an online event focused on drawing attention to the problem of overfishing and to cooking with sustainable seafood. In its third year, Teach a Man to Fish is organized by the lovely Jacqueline Church. Visit her site here for more information and lots of recipes and seafood info.)

This dish has lots of components: the fish, the sauce, lentils, kale and onions. Everything but the fish and the sauce can be made ahead (even a few days ahead), and you can just use a few components instead. For instance, the char and sauce would be nice over pasta or rice. I'm going to to give the components as separate recipes so you can decide what to use.

All recipes serve four people. I plated my dish with lentils in the bottom, kale and onions on the sides. Then I placed the char on top with a healthy dollop of beurre blanc to melt over the plate.

  • 1 1/2 pounds Arctic char fillets, cut into four pieces of about 6 oz. each
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for pan
Heat a 12" skillet, preferably not non-stick, over high heat. While the pan is heating, prepare the fish fillets: lay them skin-side down on a sheet of paper towels to ensure the fillets are really dry. Sprinkle the flesh with salt and pepper. Pour a little oil in the very hot skillet and lay the fillets skin-side down in the skillet. Sear the fillets about 3 minutes, until the skin is browned and crisp. Carefully turn the fillets and cook another 3-4 minutes until the fillets are cooked through.

Mustard Beurre Blanc
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 shallot, minced fine
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces (yes, that's two sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • salt to taste
Put the wine and shallot in a small saucepan and boil over medium-high heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons. Whisk in the mustard.

Whisk in butter, piece by piece. Don't add all the butter at once, you need to emulsify the sauce with the butter, and you won't succeed if you try to rush it. Whisk vigorously, adding each piece as it's absorbed into the sauce. When all the butter has been added, season sauce with salt to taste.

Keep sauce warm until time to serve.

Lentilles du Puy
  • 1 cup lentilles du Puy (see my lentil posts here and here for more info on this type of lentil)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • sprig thyme
  • olive oil
In a medium saucepan (3 quart-ish) over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic until softened and just starting to brown. Add the lentils and stir to coat with oil. Add 2-3 cups water and the thyem and bring to a simmer. Simmer until lentils are cooked through. Depending on the age of your lentils, they will take from 20-45 minutes. Add more water as needed; you want the lentils to stay covered with water while they cook.

When the lentils are tender, remove them from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

The lentils can be made several days ahead and reheated when you need them.

Braised Kale
  • 1 bunch kale, leaves pulled from stems, leaves cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • oil for sauteing
  • sherry vinegar
Saute the garlic until it starts to soften, add the shredded kale and a sprinkle of salt. Saute over medium heat until the kale is wilted and soft. If the kale starts to stick, or the pan seems too dry, add a splash of water. Season to taste with salt and a splash of sherry vinegar.

Caramelized Onions
  • 10-30 small onions (cippolini or boiling onions - judge how many you need by their size: they're garnish, not a side dish), peeled and halved through the stem end if large.
  • 1 -2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • brown sugar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Saute the onions in a skillet large enough to hold them in one layer. Let them brown gently over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Pour enough chicken broth onto the onions to cover them halfway. Partially cover the pan. Simmer until onions are soft all the way through. Remove cover from pan, turn heat up and boil until the broth is reduced to a glaze.

Deglaze the pan with vinegar and add a sprinkle of brown sugar to make a glaze that coats the onions. Taste: if things are too vinegary add a little more sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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