Arctic Char: Walking a Cedar Plank

Arctic Char

Arctic Char Swimming the Plank

I’ve been offline for a little while as my router/modem went south in a big way.  I’ll give those of you who have had to talk to the voicemail hell of AT&T a little hint told to me by a friend:  If you are tired of talking to machines, and being sent in circles, speak the word AGENT into the phone.  Eventually, the system (you will still need to input your contact info via machine-reception) will twig to your request, and you will be connected to a real live human being.  They actually are helpful.

Anyhow, I’m baaaaack.  No, my name is not Arnold…

I’m not yet at the full-fledged sustainable level on my seafood eating, but I’m working on getting there, at least when I am buying seafood to cook at home.   (I’m not so good when I’m dining out, not yet, but certainly bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass are off my lists, even there.)  Arctic char is listed as sustainable on the Seafood Watch list, farmed or otherwise.

Arctic char is one of those fishes in the cold water salmon/steelhead trout category of fishes. It loves truly cold waters way way up north.  If it is farmed, it is farmed in locked inland lakes, and in some of those lakes, it is the only fish that is native there to begin with. The coloration of its flesh ranges from pale pink to bright red.  My previous encounter with this excellent fish was with a paler member of this species.  My current one was redder.

I stopped off today at that roadside seafood stand from which I previously bought a marvelous shad fillet, and picked up one of these fillets. 0.8 pounds of fish.

I’d never grilled on a cedar plank before, and had just purchased a couple of these, and decided to use one to enhance my Arctic experience. It turns out that I spent way way too many hours away from home today, so I decided to test the cedar plank in the oven instead of firing up the grill. Some future time…

Recipe:

1 fillet of Arctic char (here it was 0.8 lbs, but unlike baked goods, being precise is not needed).
1 cedar plank. Soak in water at least an hour. They suggest overnight.  It is important to soak the plank. Whether in your oven or on your grill, you seriously don’t want it catching fire. Alternatives: salmon, steelhead trout, generic trout, shad fillet… a boisterous fish, but not so boisterous as bluefish, in my opinion.
Lime juice from about ¼ of a lime (Lemon would be great, too, but lime was in the house.)
2 thin slices of lime
Ground pepper
1/3rd chopped scallion/green onion.

Ready to cook…

The (Optional) Veggie Side:  

About ten or so stalks of thin asparagus.
3-4 crimini or button mushrooms, sliced reasonably thin
2/3rd chopped scallion/green onion
A splattering of veggie broth, just to keep things moist. Preferably home-brewed, but if not – choose organic and low sodium
Ground pepper
Lime juice from about ¼ lime
Grated parmesan cheese

Season and marinate up your fish, first, with the ingredients above. Lay on a couple thin slices of lime.

If I’d had a really large plank, I’d have put the fish and the veggies on the same plank, and minimized the veggie broth so it wouldn’t run off the plank too badly. As it was, the veggies got done in an oven-ready skillet and so I added a bit more liquid.

Preheat your oven to 350 F or get your grill going and heated. Grills are not so precise, just watch them.  By the way, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, get yourself a “charcoal chimney” where you can use matches and newspaper as opposed to matches and stinky lighter fluid.  Assuming anyone ever sees hard copy newspapers any more.

Get the veggie part going. Scatter the asparagus and mushrooms around on an oven-ready skillet, and then add the broth, then the rest of the ingredients.

In your pre-heated oven, let the fish cook about 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness or desired degree of done-ness.  I like mine still moist inside, and still a little pink (medium rare?).  No need to flip it.  The veggies should be done at about the same time, say 12 minutes.

Arctic Char

Dinner is Served

The cedar plank does add a nifty taste-treat to the fish.  A little bit woody with a hint of resin, and it works well with the char.  This fish is milder than most salmon, but still definitely related in the taste bud department.  Keeping similar seasonings on the veggie side was a nice touch this time around.  I ate all the veggies and half the salmon, reserving the other half as the protein portion of next day’s luncheon salad.

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3 Responses to Arctic Char: Walking a Cedar Plank

  1. Nicely done! I love arctic char, and cooking it on a cedar plank adds that slightly smokey essence to its flavor.

  2. Thanks so much for the tutorial on using planks for grilling. What a lovely way to eat. I must make this soon…can never have too much salmon in my life! :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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