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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Roasted Carrot Harissa and Creme Fraiche Crostini

Harissa is a spicy red chili paste that originates from North Africa and it’s used so frequently in other parts of the world that it’s often viewed as a condiment. If you’re curious, you can read about some of the history and regional variations here, or learn how to make a standard version here. The recipe I’m sharing with you is more of a spread than a paste and the roasted carrots mellow the peppers and temper the heat.

it's bright orange!

it’s bright orange!

I’ve recently been spending time with some of my vegan friends, and when I contribute to a vegan meal I like to find recipes that show off the potential in vegetables and spices. This harissa is perfect because it is packed with flavor and makes use of one of the few vegetables that thrives in winter—carrots. Roasting the carrots brings out their sweetness, which is the ideal way to balance the spice from the peppers.

dried anaheims and chiles de arbol

dried anaheims and chiles de arbol

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I used dried Anaheim chilis and Chile de Arbol and found the results fairly mild. You can definitely up the heat by using a hotter dried pepper. Most of the heat in chilis is contained in their veins and seeds, so by removing those you are keeping the flavor and lowering the heat. The spice mixture in this recipe is ground cumin, black caraway seeds, and coriander seeds. I can’t describe the flavor combination—you’ll just have to trust me and try it. It’s divine!

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Both times I’ve made this I prepared it in advance, and followed the instructions to store with some olive oil on top. When it was time to serve, I stirred it to incorporate the olive oil and found the final texture creamy and smooth. I bothered with the crostini once, but since then I’ve just been eating it with chips or rice crackers. The priority is finding a blank slate so the harissa can shine.

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For those of us who are not vegan, I recommend serving this with crème fraiche and little parsley. The chips in the photos are Late July Sea Salt Multigrain and are conveniently gluten free, vegan, and delicious. Enjoy!

Roasted Carrot Harissa and Crème Fraiche Crostini via Food 52

By Gingerroot            February 2011