Maybe it’s my Maritime roots, but I always feel a little bit sad when I hear people say that they don’t like fish. As with so many foods, it’s often the case that they just haven’t had a chance to enjoy fish that’s been prepared properly. Overcooking fish is the most common mistake; I sometimes think people overseason it as well. This recipe is great because it lets the simple, un-fishy taste of Arctic char shine. A mild-flavoured, freshwater fish, char is closely related to both salmon and lake trout and is typically sold in fillets that are about three quarters of a pound (340 g) each. I love to serve this easy-to-prepare dish with sliced, roasted golden beets but you could easily plate it with rice, couscous, quinoa or potatoes.
- 1 medium fennel bulb, with fronds
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) good quality olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Arctic char fillet
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) walnut pieces, toasted
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) shaved Parmesan
- 1/2 navel orange, in wedges
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cut stalks from fennel bulb and reserve. With a sharp knife, trim any discolored bits from the fennel bulb and slice it in half from top to bottom. Slice the bulb halves into ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick slices.
- Scatter sliced fennel in an 8×8 inch (20 x 20 cm) glass or ceramic baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the fennel and sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
- Put a tight-fitting lid on the baking dish or cover with foil; put in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then remove lid or foil and bake 5 minutes more.
- While fennel is roasting, rinse the Arctic char under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the fillet in half, crosswise, so it will fit in the same pan as the fennel. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.
- Also while fennel is roasting, cut fronds off the reserved fennel stalks and coarsely chop them. You want approximately 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of chopped fronds.
- After the fennel has cooked for 15 minutes (10 covered + 5 uncovered), remove the dish from the oven, lay fish fillets on top of the fennel and return the dish to the oven. Let roast for approximately 10 minutes, until fish is opaque in the centre when you peek with the tines of a fork.
- To serve, divide fennel among two serving plates, spreading it out in a thin layer larger than the pieces of fish. Top each plate with a portion of fish and scatter toasted walnuts and parmesan over the fennel that is not covered by the fish. Put chopped fennel fronds on top of the fish and garnish each plate with an orange wedge, to be squeezed over the fish and fennel.
Serves 2; can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled!