Hands – On Cooking Class, with Visiting Chef Lia Huber
Arctic char is a relative of salmon and trout, with flavor that is somewhere between the two, and it has a luscious fattiness. This recipe demonstrates how easy it is to smoke fish on a standard grill. Serve the smoked arctic char warm or chilled. This recipe also works well with wild salmon. Serves 4.
1 quart boiling water
¾ cup kosher salt
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
18 whole juniper berries, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
1 (1-pound) Arctic char fillet
2 cups wood chips (hickory, applewood or cherrywood, etc.)
1 cup Lentilles du Puy (or sprouted green lentils)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup onion, finely diced
1 cup carrot, peeled and finely diced
½ cup celery, finely diced
½ cup green pepper, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare fish, combine first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Cool to room temperature. Add Arctic char to pan (if the fish bobs to the surface, weight it down with a small bowl). Cover, and refrigerate 3 hours.
- While fish is brining, soak wood chips for 1 hour. Drain.
- While wood chips are soaking, make the lentils. Place lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Strain and return to pot.
- In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and sauté onion, carrot, celery, pepper and garlic for 5-8 minutes, until deep golden brown but not mushy. Stir into lentils with vinegar, honey, salt and pepper (add up to a quarter cup vegetable stock if lentils seem dry). Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes to marry flavors. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Pre-heat grill and set it up for indirect heat. For a charcoal grill, move ash-covered coals to one side of the grill, and add soaked, drained wood chips directly to the coals. For a gas grill, place the chips in a smoker box, or arrange chips on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap, and poke holes in top of foil. Place the smoker box or foil packet directly on the heated burner. Heat wood chips 10 minutes or until they start to smoke.
- Remove Arctic char from brine; discard the brine. Rinse fish thoroughly under cold running water. Pat fish dry. Brush skin side of fish with canola oil. Add fish, skin side down, to unheated side of grill. Cover, and smoke 10-15 minutes or until desired degree of smokiness. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the filet. Flake fish into bite-size pieces and serve on top of lentils.
Perfect dish for an outdoor feast on a warm summer’s night…enjoy!