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.


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.


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!


Arctic Char with Charmoula

Food and Wine            August 2014


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


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.



Cod Mare Chiaro via Food 52

By Giulia Melucci            July 2009