I am working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium as the food editor for their Seafood Watch website, and the first post I produced is up. Each month we introduce one sustainable seafood item, with information about why it is a good choice for the environment and tips for cooking it. This is brought to life with 2 recipes fashioned specifically for the website; I will create one, and one will be from a chef who is dedicated to sustainability.
This month we talk about arctic char, a delicate fish that tastes like a cross between salmon and trout. The photo here shows the recipe I devised: very easy to prepare Char with Fennel and Orange. The fish fillets and fennel and red onion wedges are seasoned with fennel seeds and orange zest and roasted in a hot oven. While they cook, balsamic vinegar and orange juice simmer until syrupy, for a quick, sprightly sauce to spoon over the fish.
Steve, my beau and the photographer for this blog (he refers to himself as the blographer), is also generating the food images for the website, making it a family project.
The aquarium is dedicated to saving the oceans and sea life from destruction, and Seafood Watch helps consumers select and cook seafood that is good for the oceans, and healthful to eat. I hope you will check out the website, and enjoy the tasty recipes we offer.
Arctic Char with Fennel and Orange
- 4 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide wedges, some fronds reserved for garnish
- 2 large red onions, peeled, cut through the stem end into 1-inch wide wedges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
- 4 teaspoons grated orange zest, from about 3 oranges, divided
- 1¾ teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed coarsely in mortar with pestle if desired, divided
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil non-stick cooking spray, optional
- 4 arctic char fillets, 5-6 ounces each
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar
- Arrange one rack in the upper third and one rack in the lower third of the oven, and then preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine the fennel wedges and onions in a large bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1½ teaspoons of the orange zest, and 1 teaspoon of the fennel seeds and toss to coat the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Place on the upper oven rack and roast 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables and continue roasting until tender and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes longer.
- Meanwhile, spray a small, rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray, or brush with olive oil. Brush the skin of the fish with olive oil and place skin side down on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top of the fish with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, 1½ teaspoons of the orange zest, and remaining ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds.
- After the vegetables have cooked a total of 20 minutes, place the pan with the fish on the lower oven rack and cook the fish until it feels springy when pressed in the center, about 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. For another test of doneness, make a small incision in the thickest part of the fish, the flesh should be just opaque in the center; if it is still translucent, cook a few minutes longer.
- While the fish cooks, mix the vinegar, orange juice, brown sugar, and remaining 1 teaspoon grated orange zest in a large skillet. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Simmer over medium heat until thickened to a syrupy texture, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Divide the vegetables and fish among 4 warmed plates, saving the juices on the fish pan. Stir 3-4 teaspoons of the fish juices into the balsamic sauce. Spoon the sauce over the fish and vegetables. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.