Baked Arctic Char with Ginger Lemon Tomato Relish and Rich Risotto is The Sophisticated Choice You’ve Been Looking For.Main Course / March 17, 2021
Slaving over a hot stove is usually a reference saved for those bound to tortured servitude; a permanent underclass of kitchen help that rarely sees the light of day: A statement I disagree with on almost every level. I personally find it incredibly soothing to stand before a steaming pan of food. And I have the gall to do it in front of my guests, wearing blingly bracelets, and sipping an embarrassingly expensive glass of wine.
So, when there is a creamy, cheesy, classic risotto on my stove in front of me, I’m almost giddy. Yes, it is about 40 minutes from heating the oil to spooning the mixture into your mouth. And it asks patience, but the rest of the technical acumen needed for this classic rice dish includes how to wield a large ladle, and knowing how to say “yum.” That’s about it.
Forty minutes may seem like a long time for you to be vigilant, slowly adding stock to a simmering saucepan of Arborio rice until it bursts into a white cloud of perfection, but the end result is a thick, soft, and beautiful side dish. It is also versatile. If you can follow the process of heating, and add aromatics, toast the rice, deglaze with wine, and then ladle in the liquid, you can add anything to change the theme. I’ve created risottos using mushrooms, apples, raisins, even salami to create an endless series of variations. In this case I added preserved lemons, and fresh ginger along with the cream, parmigiana reggiano cheese, and sweet onion. This gave the finished dish so much depth and mystery that’s it is almost hard to think it needed anything else to go with it. Trust me though. It gets better.
Arctic char is a fish that has the color and sweetness of salmon and the fresh flavor of trout. It is hearty yet luxurious. And so easy to make. When cooked it is turns into a gorgeous saffron orange. The hue is vibrant, sassy, and honest. I needed that kind of sophistication to go along with my risotto.
I used heirloom tomatoes for the relish because I wanted the deep red of those whose colors are more like brick than fire engine red. It made a beautiful dish in the end. You can use any tomato but the trick with this relish is to remove all the seeds. After halving and then quartering them, a sharp knife run along the inside to quickly remove the liquid and seeds gives you the result you desire. I added jalapeño for a bit of heat that pushes against the heady ginger and lemon, and makes the earthy sweet fish pop on your palette. The entire dish is balanced, and classy. The best way known to eliminate any underclass or torture from any sector you are a part of.