Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

May 26, 2017

© Antonis Achilleos

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Arctic char with charmoula

Charmoula, like salsa verde and harissa, is versatile, but never dull. The alchemy relies on lemon juice, garlic, chili flakes, olive oil and herbs. It pairs magically with any protein, delivering acidity, spice and freshness. Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria — each can lay claim to the sauce.


For the charmoula
1⁄4 c. (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. (5 ml) chili flakes
1 tsp. (5 ml) coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp. (5 ml) cumin seeds, crushed
1 shallot, minced
1⁄2 c. (125 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
1⁄2 c. (125 ml) finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 c. (60 ml) very good extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 tsp. (1.25 ml) salt


four 4- to 6-oz. (115- to 170-g) Arctic char fillets
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
1⁄2 tsp. (2.5 ml) salt


To make the charmoula, mix all of the ingredients together in a small serving bowl. Stir and set aside.

Preheat the broiler to high, positioning a rack as close to the heat source as possible. Line a baking sheet or large, ovenproof frying pan with foil, crimping the edges up all around to catch any liquid that will be released by the fish.

Brush the Arctic char with the olive oil, sprinkle with the 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt and set it on the foil.

Cook the fish, without turning, for 6 to 12 minutes — possibly more or less, depending on its thickness and the intensity of your broiler. Check the fish by inserting a knife into the thickest part. The fish should flake apart without resistance. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read (135°F) 57°C.

Spoon a little charmoula in the centre of each plate, place the fish on top and sprinkle with mint. Serves 4. Suggested side: roasted eggplant with pearl (Israeli) couscous.


Fish note Wild Alaskan salmon or coho salmon are the closest alternatives to Arctic char. Truth is, the charmoula will pair up with any fish.

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