A hint of thyme compliments the delicate flavor of wild char, one or our favorite fish. No wild fish available? Look for Arctic Char at the fish market. They get high marks for being responsibly farmed and are delicious.
There’s something about wild char and trout that calls to simplicity. Among all species of fish, they are among the most demanding of unspoiled environments. Where streams, rivers and lakes are clean and lightly trammeled, these species often thrive, both their numbers and the setting they inhabit evoking bygone times. It is in such settings that light harvest of a few fish is sustainable.
When presented with such fish in the kitchen, the most basic ingredients are all that is wanted. Salt and butter, perhaps a little pepper or a pinch or two of an aromatic herb. A little lemon can be nice, too. Root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips or rutabaga roasted or pan fried in olive oil and soy sauce make the perfect accompaniment on the serving platter.
Broiled Char or Trout for Two
- 1 char or trout of about 16 to 18 inches (40 – 45 cm) (between 1 and two pounds, dressed)
- fine sea salt (we use Grey Sea Salt in all of our salmon and trout recipes)
- two light pinches of dry thyme (or about double that if you have fresh)
- 1 lemon cut into thin slices, peel cut away
- butter, sliced into thin pats
- olive oil or canola oil
- broiling pan. We use a Swiss Diamond cast iron griddle for this kind of broiling.
- Place a broiling pan near the top shelf in the oven and preheat on broil. You want the pan to be very hot when the fish is placed on it. This prevents the fish from sticking. Do not oil the pan yet.
- Rinse the fish in cold water and dry with paper towels. Make sure the gills and viscera have been removed.
- On a cutting board or platter, position the fish with its it’s open belly toward you.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut shallow, oblique slashes spaced about an inch apart (2.5 cm) down both sides of the fish. You want to break the skin without cutting all the way through to the body cavity.
- Rub fish inside and out with fresh lemon juice.
- Salt the fish inside and out. Sprinkle a little thyme inside the cavity on the sides.
- Place a few thin slices of butter inside the cavity and on top of the fish’s side.
- Place pieces of lemon on top of the fish’s side.
- Spread olive oil on broiling pan. A basting brush works well for this. Return pan to oven for about a minute to ensure that oil is very hot.
- Place fish on broiling pan or griddle. The fish should really sizzle when it hits the pan. Once the fish is on the pan, do not move it. (Moving a fish just after it hits a pan can cause it to stick to the pan.) Return to the oven and broil for 5 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and gently flip the fish. Do this by rolling the fish on its back using spatulas. This will prevent the cavity from draining. Place additional pieces of butter and fresh slices of lemon on the up side of the fish and return to the oven. Broil for 3 or 4 more minutes.
- The fish is done when the slashes have opened, the skin is golden brown, the tail is crisp and the eyes are opaque.
- Serve with roasted root vegetables on warmed plates. Compliment with a light Chardonnay or a crisp ale.