I am not a confident cooker of fish. I can do a basic, olive oil, salt and pepper prep before baking a piece of fish on a sheet pan in the oven. Afterward followed by a squeeze a bit of lemon, but nothing much fancier than that.
Given that my dad taught me to use a fishing rod at a very early age, you'd think I would know better than that. I loved baiting the fish hooks with worms I would dig up out of the ground, or with clams found in the lake and smashed open with a rock. Sackett Lake in the NY Catskills was stocked with sunnies, perch, and there were the dreaded catfish as well. The catfish looked so ominous with their long whiskers, and I was taught that they were bottom feeders, thus not good to cook and eat. If caught, a catfish was unhooked and released immediately.
I was also taught that the best time to fish was after a rainstorm, as well as in the early dusk. But at dusk you had to watch out for the bats who liked to swoop low in the early evenings. We were always scared that a flying bat would get caught in our hair. But now I know, that of course is a myth.
Our rowboat could be tricked out with a 1-½ horsepower engine. I loved to troll around the perimeter of the lake, listening to the putt, putt, putt of the motor. My feet over the edge of the boat, cooling in the water, with my fishing line trailing behind to entice the fish.
If I caught only one or two fish, my grandfather would let me know that such a small amount was not enough for a family fish fry. Back to the dock I would go to cast my rod and catch more fish. I would string the fish on a chain line kept in the water, until I had enough. Dad would always gut and scale the fish outside on a newspaper covered table, before we got to cooking that night's supper.
Cooking fish in the time of covid
When it became apparent that covid was a real, in our lifetime pandemic, I started to think about how I would source food into the house. Being immuno-suppressed it became important to stay home and not go to grocery stores to do my shopping. One of the things I did was to order frozen fish from Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics. Like everyone else, I was stocking my pantry and freezer in case of food shortages, and anticipating long periods of time without grocery shopping.
The image in my mind for living through covid was the ice palace in the movie, Dr. Zhivago. As a result, I purchased a ton of frozen salmon as well as a ton of arctic char. Now that I am finding purchasing food is much easier than I anticipated, I am working my way through all of the food in my freezer and pantry.
Upon defrosting a piece of arctic char in my fridge, overnight, I was ready to cook it the next day. I was delighted when I found this recipe for broiled lemon-honey arctic char with citrus sauce. Active time for making this dish is only about 15 minutes, so another easy-peasy cooking experience. And the final result is a flavorful dish that suits this season of spring, soon to be summer. This recipe flavoring the fish with olive oil, honey, citrus and chives, could not be lighter.
So if you are anything like me, lose your fish cooking phobia, jump in with both feet, try this recipe, and enjoy. You will be pleasantly surprised and will have a new recipe for your repertoire. And if you are looking to pair this fish dish with a dessert, try Cooking the Kitchen's Simplest Summer's Strawberry Tart!Jump to Recipe
This, that, and the other
Living in the time of covid, for me, has been a time of incremental changes in my life. It has been a time of going from "I can't believe this is happening," to "so this is how I learn to live in these times."
After absolutely staying in my house from March 1 to mid-May, except for going out into my backyard garden, I amassed a collection of masks and started to venture out. It would have been easy to become an agoraphobic and never go out again. I felt like I did not know how to be outside and within society.
Despite the fact that our NY Governor Cuomo hammers home, time and again, the necessity to wear masks, I would say that a good 30 percent of the people I see during my walks do not wear masks, wear them incorrectly, or keep them around their necks and do not put them up again when passing me by. I am trying to not be upset by this, and simply wend further away from these people during my walks.
At first I only walked in Greenwood Cemetery, which beside being a cemetery, is also an arboretum. Greenwood Cemetary, as a metaphor for the death statistics in the time of covid, could be overwhelming. But the quiet and beauty outweighed that negative. Plus, it was a lot less crowded than Prospect Park, so walking there was not such an anxiety filled experience. I imagine that people outside of the Metropolitan area, with lots of free space around would have trouble understanding such an urbanite problem.
The story I really want to tell is this. The other day when walking home from my walk in Greenwood Cemetary, I made my way back through Windsor Terrace, the next neighborhood over from Park Slope. I passed this subway station entrance, which brought me back to the day my family went to cast our ballots for Barack Obama, on November 4, 2008.
That day, our usual polling place was closed and we had to vote in a polling place in Windsor Terrace, with which we were not familiar. My husband and I, walked to the polling place together, and our son caught up with us and joined us on line soon after. What sticks with me to this day is our excitement at casting our votes for this momentous election, as well as our pride, and most of all, our hope. It felt so good to be together. Our togetherness was palpable to me, like a litter of puppies. It is something in this time of covid, we are missing so much. Actual, physical, togetherness.
After voting we went out separate ways, to get to work. I knew I needed to find a subway, but not being familiar with the Windsor Terrace neighborhood, I walked back in the direction from which I came. And then I stumbled upon this subway entrance where I caught a train to take me into Manhattan.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Broiled Lemon-Honey Arctic Char with Citrus Sauce
Note that this recipe is for four servings. I cooked it for just one.
- 4 small oranges (a mix of Cara Cara and tangerines is nice. I used a naval orange).
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 4 four ounce Artic Char fillets
- 2 tbsp minced chives
- 1 pinch flaky sea salt
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
Position a rack 3 inches from broiler. (I think that 4 inches from broiler is fine. Some comments on the original recipe noted that raising the pan by setting it on a rack to attain the height of 3 inches from the broiler, caused the fish to burn. So use your own judgment on distance.)
Supreme the citrus fruit. To do so, slice off the ends of each orange and the lemon. Squeeze the juice out of those ends into a medium bow. Discard the rind. Stand each piece of fruit on one of its cut sides. Run a knife down the side of each orange and the lemon to remove the skin. Squeeze the juice out of those skins into the bowl, then discard. Remove each citrus segment by running a knife down the side of each membrane and slicing the segment out. Drop it into the bowl of juice. Once all of the segments are removed, squeeze the remaining membranes into the bowl to extract the juice. You should be left with a bowl of beautiful segments swimming in a lot of juice.
Pour one tablespoon of the juice from the bowl of citrus segments into a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Whisk to combine. Add the fillets of artic char and toss to coat. Let marinate for at least 5 minutes. (Note, that if your fillet is thick, slice it horizontally into two pieces, which will be easier to cook. You will avoid undercooking the center of a thick fillet.)
Meanwhile, pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the bowl with the citrus segments. Add the chives and a big pinch of sea salt. Stir to combine, Taste. It should taste similar to a salad dressing with perhaps less of a bite. It should not be emulsified.
Rub a sizzle pan or sheet pan or broiler pan lightly with neutral oil. Remove fillets from marinade, letting excess drip off-no need to pat dry. Discard excess marinade. (Note that if you do not discard the marinade, but cook the fish in the marinade, the marinade on the pan will burn and you will set off your smoke alarm). Season the flesh with salt (and pepper, if you wish) to taste. Broil 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately transfer fillets to a serving platter. Spoon sauce over top. Pass extra sauce on the side.