Arctic Char with Charmoula

Much of the flavor in this fast and easy dish comes from the charmoula (also spelled chermoula.) Charmoula is a North African sauce made of herbs, garlic, oil, and spices, frequently used to flavor fish. If it sounds intimidating to make, it isn’t! It’s not much different from a pesto, pistou, or chimichurri sauce. This recipe starts by toasting some unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry skillet until the skins begin to blacken. Then use a food processor or blender to combine the (peeled) toasted garlic, fresh herbs, spices, olives, lemon juice, and olive oil into a paste. Add some salt and set aside while you prepare the fish.

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I used marinated green olives for a little extra flavor

The fish—I used salmon—should be seasoned with salt and pepper before placing it in the skillet. I generally like to roast my fish, but the filets only take 3-4 minutes per side on the stovetop and the end result was delicious. The fish should be fairly easy to flip once it’s cooked because the heat renders fat and pulls it to the surface. You can read all you’ve ever wanted to know about techniques for perfectly pan fried salmon at Serious Eats.

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Toast the garlic in its skin, then let cool and peel

By the time you’ve steamed a side of broccoli, this meal is ready! It’s quick to prepare, and full of nutrition and flavor. Enjoy!

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Arctic Char with Charmoula

Food and Wine            August 2014

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Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil

The flavors in this dish are so light and fresh, which makes it perfect for a hot summer evening meal. You can use any white, flaky fish, but I indulged and bought Halibut. The fish cooks on a bed of thinly sliced shallots and summer squash, with cherry tomatoes and basil sprinkled around. It’s important to salt and pepper everything before you cook to make the subtle flavors shine. A tablespoon each of dry white wine and olive oil creates enough moisture inside the parchment packets to steam-cook the filets, keeping them tender and juicy.

i couldn't find yellow crookneck squash at the store, so subbed all zucchini

i couldn’t find yellow crookneck squash at the store, so subbed all zucchini

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This fish is quick and easy to make, and shows off the beautiful colors of fresh summer produce. I steamed some extra vegetables as a side, adding a hearty squeeze of fresh lime juice to finish. Top the finished filets with more fresh basil and enjoy!

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Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil

Bon Appétit            June 2012

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

This dish is beautiful! It is an excellent way to prepare salmon for company because it comes together quickly and looks impressive. I used a meyer lemon and a blood orange to play up the contrast in colors, and because I like the sweetness of these varieties. The prep takes about ten minutes, and then the whole dish finishes off in the oven. I used a mandolin to slice everything—including the jalapeno. Be sure to wear gloves if you’re working with a hot pepper! It only takes one incident with capsaicin to discover why this step is so important.

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Since I wasn’t cooking for company, I purchased one pound of salmon fillets and altered my cooking time accordingly. I wanted the fennel to roast to its fullest sweetness, and the rinds of the citrus to lose some of their bitterness, so I roasted them for about 15 minutes before adding the salmon. I let the salmon filets cook for about 25 minutes, which meant they were cooked to medium rather than medium-rare. The end result was delicate and delicious, but next time I will roast the fennel mixture even longer for a sweeter, caramelized fennel result.

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Citrus and dill are natural complements to fish. Citrus flavors and brightens the fish without overpowering it, and dill is an herb delicate enough to pair well. The fennel and chile make this meal a little more interesting and fun. Enjoy!

served with a side of sauteed chard and capers

served with a side of sauteed chard and capers

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

Bon Appétit

Cod Mare Chiaro

This delightful dish was my first experience cooking cod. Cod is a white, flaky fish that can hold up to frying, but  also turns out beautifully in this roasted recipe. Technically this dish takes about 45 minutes to prepare, but all of the work really happens in the first 20 minutes, while the potatoes are roasting.

roast potatoes and saute the vegetables at the same time

roast potatoes and saute the vegetables at the same time

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Since it’s winter and tomatoes aren’t their best, I purchased a colorful assortment of cherry tomatoes, which are still a bit sweet. They were small enough that I only needed to slice them in half rather than chop them, and the mix of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes was stunning. The flavor combinations are undeniably Italian—oregano and basil, olives, capers, and tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. There is nothing surprising about the recipe, but it’s pleasing and healthy in that good-fats, Mediterranean-diet sort of way. I added a side of sautéed kale just for something green, but this could easily be a one-pot meal.

add cod and pan sauce to roasting dish

add cod and pan sauce to roasting dish

oh, the vibrant green of kale

oh, the vibrant green of kale

There are no tricks—it’s fast and easy to prepare. In the summer with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden I bet it would be salivatingly delicious. Even in February, this recipe is a reminder that a few good ingredients can result in a satisfying, memorable meal.

mangia!

mangia!

Cod Mare Chiaro via Food 52

By Giulia Melucci            July 2009

Whole Baked Trout with Mushrooms

My mother passed this recipe along to me. She is my constant inspiration and companion in the kitchen, even though we live far apart. Just like roasting a whole chicken, roasting a whole fish can be impressive and satisfying. I was looking for a fish dish to lighten things up, but clearly the wintery weather won out. The mushrooms are cooked in butter and tossed with prosciutto, while the lemon and fresh parsley work to keep the dish balanced.

right out of the oven

right out of the oven

Impressive and weeknight dinners don’t always go together. Sometimes I get in over my head, and even though this recipe is fairly straightforward it felt like a lot of effort after a full day’s work. I would like to give a shout-out to my partner, Ben, for cranking up the music and churning out chopped vegetables like a pro. Ultimately it was worth the effort for moist, flaky fish, hearty mushrooms, and rich prosciutto, but having a sous-chef made a big difference.

mushrooms, onions, and herbs pre-prosciutto

mushrooms, onions, and herbs pre-prosciutto

The whole trout that I purchased was “dressed” but not deboned. Let me warn you that if you aren’t skilled at filleting fish, you’re much better off asking the butcher to do it for you. Trout bones are tiny! If you’re unable to find whole, deboned trout, you can shorten the cooking time to roast filets instead. And on that note—the original recipe that my mom sent came from a cookbook, but the link below is from Bon Appetite. The recipes are the same, but my version doesn’t include the celery and the cooking time is lowered to 20 minutes. It was clear that the fish were done after 20 minutes because it was so tender that the head fell off when I plated the fish! It also calls for more butter than is truly necessary. If you’re thinking about skimping, go ahead and cut back. The end result will still be delicious.

lemon, salt and pepper inside

lemon, salt and pepper inside

fill and fold, brush skins with butter

fill and fold, brush skins with butter

I served the trout with a side of sautéed kale with garlic, shallots and capers. The hearty kale and salty capers lent a nice contrast to the richness of the fish. All in all, it was a worthwhile endeavor and we both felt satisfied. I hope you will, too!

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This weekend I will be posting about meal planning and managing your holiday kitchen. Stay tuned!

Whole Baked Trout with Mushrooms via Epicurious

Bon Appetit            February 1996