Arctic char pastrami glazed with maple syrup and beer
Ottawa’s C’est Bon Cooking specializes in Canadian Boreal cuisine—green alder, spruce tips, Labrador Tea, haskaps, maple and birch products; Ingredients most people are not familiar with, but are typical of our area.
Most ingredients in this recipe are foraged, harvested or cultivated locally. The Arctic char sourced from Iqaluit, or north of James Bay, is definitely a Canadian must-have and is not commonly known or used.
2 filets Arctic Char, skin on (thick cut)
For curing the char:
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup maple sugar
For the pastrami glaze:
2-3 tablespoons Sunflower oil
5 medium-sized shallots, finely chopped
½ tablespoon crushed green alder* or black peppercorns
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
2 cans oatmeal stout beer
¼ cup maple syrup (preferably dark)
3 bay leaves
½ tablespoon paprika
Properly clean the char, removing any visible bones, pat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess liquid and place on a sheet pan, skin down. Combine salt and maple sugar, and heavily coat flesh side of the char with the mixture. Reserve any unused cure for a future use. Wrap the char in plastic wrap, lay a second sheet pan on top of the char and place a canned good on top of that sheet pan to weigh down the pan. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
In a saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped shallots and sauté until they reach a golden color. Add the beer and bay leaves to the shallots and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and then simmer until mixture reduces by half. Once the liquid mixture (glaze) is reduced to 1 cup of liquid, add the crushed green alder pepper, paprika and dill, whisk to incorporate and let cool. Note that this glaze can be made in advance and will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months.
The next day, rinse off the char and pat dry. Pour 3 tablespoons of the glaze into a clean bowl and brush it onto the char’s flesh. Re-wrap the char, place in the refrigerator and repeat this process every two hours, at least five times. After five bastings of the char, slice very thinly and serve with a mix of organic greens or on a dry cracker such as a baguette crisp.
*Green alder is the cone fruit of an alder tree that is harvested from our forests, dried and used as a substitute for pepper. It has a more floral note to it rather than a spicy bite. It’s best to use a mortar and pestle to crush it.
Courtesy of Georges Laurier, chef and co-owner of Ottawa’s C’est Bon Cooking
Top photo by Ottawa Tourism