Braised Arctic Char with Sauteed Spinach and Ginger Garlic Caramel Sauce

Watch me make this on my YouTube channel!

Yield: 2 servings

Arctic Char and Ginger Garlic Caramel Sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon white miso

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced small (1/4 cup)

1½ tablespoons minced garlic

1½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

½ to 2/3 pound arctic char, cut into 2 equal sized pieces

1 scallion, thinly sliced on a bias

Optional: 2 portions of cooked rice or grain of choice for serving

Add the sugar to a 3-quart heavy bottom saucepan. Shake pan to distribute the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place over medium-low heat. Let cook until sugar is melted and a light caramel color is achieved. If you notice that one side of your pan is cooking faster than the other, rotate the pan for even cooking. If your caramel starts to smoke, that’s okay, you can pick the pan up off the heat and swirl the caramel around if some of the sugar is still in the process of melting. You can also lower the heat if it’s cooking too quickly in areas.

Carefully add the chicken stock (away from you), it will bubble up and may sputter and steam.

Next, add the white miso, oyster sauce, oil, shallot, garlic, ginger and black pepper.  Stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the caramel has gone into solution/dissolved. (You can also use a whisk, initially, to break up the miso.)

Adjust the heat to achieve a simmer.

Add the arctic char pieces, skin side up. Adjust heat to maintain and slow/lazy simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip char and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Turn off heat and transfer Arctic char to a plate. Remove skin if desired.

Set sauce aside. If the remaining sauce looks too thick (for spooning over final dish) thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

9 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed three times and dried

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 teaspoons), divided

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

While the Arctic Char is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over high heat until hot. Working quickly, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, swirl the pan to distribute the oil, then add ⅓ of the spinach followed by the 1/3 of the garlic, a pinch of salt and some pepper.

Using tongs, flip the spinach in the pan every few seconds to cook evenly, keeping the spinach from clumping together, so that the water can evaporate properly. This entire cooking process should take no more than one minute.

Transfer the spinach to a parchment-lined sheet pan, spread it out, then cook the remaining 2 portions of spinach in the same manner.

To serve, divide rice or grain (if using) among shallow bowls. Top with spinach and spoon over some reserved sauce. Place Arctic Char on the spinach and finish with a few sliced scallions.

Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

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Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen spinach
8 ounces fresh watercress
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
8 medium fresh mint leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Crème fraîche, for serving

Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Add the spinach and cook until spinach is thawed, approximately 2 minutes. Add the watercress and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool quickly with cold running water. Continue to drain in strainer and squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach and watercress as possible.

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock to the saucepan, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat. Add the spinach, watercress and mint to the blender.  Pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender as well. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon juice, and butter; continue to blend until fully incorporated.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few cheesy thyme crisp. (recipe below)

Cheesy Thyme Crisp

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on a microplane
1/2 cup grated Gruyere, grated on a microplane
1/2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Toss to combine in a large bowl, the cheeses, flour, thyme and pepper.

Place 6 1-tablespoon mounds of the cheesy mixture, evenly spaced apart, on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the mounds of mixture, using your fingers, into 3½ to 4-inch rounds.

Bake for 8 minutes until crisps are light brown in color. Remove from the oven and allow cheesy crisps to cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer crisps to a cookie rack and let cool completely.

Using a cool sheet pan, repeat the process until all crisps are cooked off.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!