Artic char knows how to cheer a lady right up. Even when said lady could be mistaken for a much younger girl, with her knees tucked underneath a quivering chin and nothing but two flimsy arms to help hold it together.
Kindness is her undoing; it slices her open as effectively as the slip of a knife. Salty tears streak down her cheeks in hot pursuit of object unknown, and she huddles there, vulnerability personified, until she’s as hollow as a jack-o-lantern.
When she at last begins to speak, it’s almost as unbearable as watching her cry. Her voice switches from reedy and thin to thick and desperate and back again.
There is only one thing to be done in situations like this [beyond setting the stage for a nice long nap, which is going on year 23 of making absolutely everything feel better]. Let her sew herself back up again, and then give her something to do.
Give her something to do, even if she looks so weary and worn out that you feel like a heel for even mentioning dinner. Give her something to do, even if you’re really worried that those stretchy black yoga pants [at least they’re Lululemon] and gray hoodies have become something of a uniform. Give her something to do, even if you honestly can’t remember the last time you heard her really laugh.
Artic char is a very good something-to-do. It encourages a lazy-and-lifeless-lady to rifle through a few recipes, and settle on one that will re-energize everyone within a huggable radius: basic baked artic char with a maple-mustard glaze.
Because of its coloring [which can range from scarlet red to seashell pink], I kind of clump artic char in with salmon and lake trout. The hue of these particular fillets doesn’t call a stunning wild Alaskan salmon fillet to mind [more like an orange creamsicle, don’t you think?], but the taste was certainly no less rich.
Of course, perhaps the two thick coats of maple syrup, whole grain mustard, apple cider vinegar, and thyme deserve most of the credit for the fantastic flavor. Mustard will register first, but a sweet maple-y finish will outdo it in the end.
Don’t be intimidated: this is a really simple glaze and only takes about 5 minutes to put together. The lost little lady from above wouldn’t have tried something complicated last night.
There. Now you’ll only be left with 10 minutes to try not to lick the wooden spoon.
*Cook’s Note: I purposely made enough glaze for a family of four or five, since I’m in the better-to-have-too-much-than-too-little camp…and because I knew any extra would go a long way towards rescuing my dad’s brick of a pork chop.
Recipe [Serves 2, with glaze to spare!]:
2 3.5 oz. fresh artic char fillets, skin on
Coconut spray oil
1/3 cup real maple syrup
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Prepare glaze by combining maple syrup, mustard, vinegar and thyme in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat until it simmers.
Spray a small baking dish with coconut oil.
Add fish fillets, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper.
Brush with ample amounts of glaze.
Bake for 6-7 minutes on the middle rack, and add more glaze.
Bake for an additional 2-3 minutes on the top rack, or until desired doneness.
Transfer to serving dish; serve warm.