Saturday, April 7, 2012

Arctic Char in Sustainable Lemon Cream Sauce

Lemony, flaky goodness...
The cherry blossoms were beautiful, and finishing the 10 Mile Race was a sweet topping-off of all the work that went into training to become a runner. I think I'll hang up my spurs for a while though, so that I can give my full attention to other pursuits...

One of these other pursuits, as you may have deduced, is cooking sustainable and delicious food, for myself and others. Right on the heels of running that race, I was already brimming with ideas about supper clubs and cooking classes- I'm sorry, is that my multipotentiality showing? Good!

One of the things I tried out on myself was a recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes: Arctic Char with Lemon Cream Sauce. Elise adapted it for salmon, but the original recipe from the Country Cooking of Ireland used Arctic Char, a sustainable alternative to most of the over-fished or inefficiently-caught salmon out there (not that there isn't good salmon-- it's out there, too!).

The recipe is fairly simple: lemon juice, chicken stock, and heavy cream combining and reducing to form a warm and piquant accompaniment to the crispy-skinned, flaky-fleshed arctic char. YUM. I loved how the defrosted fillets had such glistening colors on the skin side- don't be afraid to say it: fish scales can be beautiful!

As Elise notes, it's best to 1) fry the skin-side-down first, to crisp it up and 2) turn on the fan above your stove, since frying fish tends to leave a lingering, odiferous signature.
Skin-side down first
There are an awful lot of details involved in judging whether a fish species is being overfished or caught in a way that doesn't harm other species, so I leave it to Seafood Watch, a widely-trusted program of the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which I visited on a field trip as a kid in California. They study, research, and verify claims of sustainability to protect the health of the ocean's seafood species.

Now, I have come across some conflicting reports from supposedly trustworthy sources- Whole Foods for example, listing their fish as a yellow (not great) when SFW lists them as red (avoid). Any ideas about how to determine who's right? This might be a question for Twitter... (yes, I've joined Twitter. It's kind of exciting!)

Ready for its close-up
Where are you on sustainable seafood? Is it not an issue where you are? Are you confused about who is a good authority? Or are you waiting on a few, good fishmongers to show up in your neighborhood? (Me, too!) Let us know in the comments if you've found some good sources of info which you can share!

Oh, and by the way, the cream for this was organic, and the lemons were sustainably farmed, if you can call the trees in my parents' backyard a 'farm.' SO glad I'm still the occasional recipient of their care packages!

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