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Food Friday Recipe: Pan-Seared Arctic Char with Moroccan Spices

Wikimedia Commons

Char is most often farm-raised and resembles salmon or Steel Head trout. Other salmon and trout species are easily substituted in this recipe however, the cooking times will vary based on the thickness of the filets and/or portions.

This recipe calls for keeping the skin on the fish, as Char has a thin, delicate skin. Other salmon varieties, such as farm-raised Atlantic salmon, may be tastier if the skin is removed prior to cooking. The skin and dark flesh on most salmon varieties may be a bit strong in fish flavor for some palates.

Other spices can be substituted for the ones called for in this recipe, however, fresh and/or dried herbs would likely burn and should be added at the end of the cooking cycle just before plating.


1 ¼ lb arctic char 

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds                                                    

1 tsp caraway seeds                                               

1 tsp anise seeds                                                      

1 tsp black peppercorns                                          

3 tbsp light sesame oil                                               

1 ½ cups lentil salad (recipe of your choosing)                         


1. Trim the char to remove the belly flap.  Place the fish in a shallow dish skin side down.

2. For the spice paste, grind the coriander, cumin, caraway, cardamom, anise seeds, and black pepper corns in a spice grinder until a coarse texture forms or use pre-ground spices.  Pour the spice mixture into a small bowl and stir in the sesame oil.  Pour the spiced oil over the char and turn the fish once or twice to coat.

3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat; the pan needs to be very hot for a successful pan-seared dish.  Remove the char from the marinade, dragging it across the edge of the dish to scrape away any excess marinade.  Sear on the skin side until the fish is a deep golden color, about 4-5 minutes.  Do not disturb the fish.  Turn the fish once and continue to cook on the second side until the char is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.

4. Serve the char at once on a heated platter or individual plates, accompanied by the lentil salad.

Yield: 5 Servings

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