This is the time of year when I start to notice sap buckets – a welcome sign of spring – hanging from a bank of maple trees around the corner from my home. This tasty maple-infused Arctic char dish, which takes advantage of the sweet harvest, makes an appealing main course for Easter lunch or dinner.
Use a non-stick pan to get the crispiest skin –and if it's large enough to hold all your fillets, you can put it right into the oven and skip the baking-sheet part. If you substitute salmon or halibut for the char, cook it at a high heat (450 F) for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with farro risotto and braised winter greens.
A smaller portion makes a perfect appetizer, served with a salad of seedlings on the side.
Ready time: 30 minutes
1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp banana pepper, chopped
3 tbsp green onion, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 tsp maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ½ lb Arctic char fillets, skin on
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp maple syrup, divided
Salt to taste
2 tsp cracked peppercorns
Mash the avocado with a fork until chunky. Stir in peppers, onion, cilantro, lime juice and rind and maple syrup. Season well with salt and pepper and reserve.
Preheat oven to 250 F.
Cut the fillets in half (or thirds if they are very big). Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil and about 1 tablespoon maple syrup lightly over the flesh and skin of the char.
Season with salt and cracked peppercorns.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Working in batches, if necessary, lay the char in the pan, skin-side down, and sear for 2 minutes or until golden. Transfer to baking sheet, skin-side down and brush with the remaining maple syrup.
Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until just cooked.
Place one or two slices of fish on each plate and serve with avocado relish on the top or side.