Lunchbreak: Arami chef Ajay Popli makes arctic char with Japanese mushrooms and okinawan sweet potato puree

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Ajay Popli

1829 W. Chicago Avenue
(312) 243-1535

Arctic Char with Japanese Mushrooms and Okinawan Sweet Potato Puree

Arctic Char

16 oz Arctic Char (or salmon) skin-on filet, pin bones removed
9 oz Japanese mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, maitake, shimeji, king oyster) or other available mushrooms, sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place a large, heavy non-stick pan over high heat. Cut the filet into four even portions, approximately 4 oz each. Season each side with a little sea salt and black pepper.  Add vegetable oil to the pan until the bottom is evenly coated. When the oil just starts to smoke, gently place the filets skin side down in the pan, being careful not to place them too close together. After about two minutes, flip the char over with a slotted spatula. Add 2 Tbs of unsalted butter to the pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Place the filets on a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven, approximately 5 minutes, to an internal temperature of 125 degrees (or your desired degree of doneness).
While the fish is cooking, place a large pan on high heat and add a thin layer of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned. Season with a little sea salt, black pepper, and the Citrus Soy Dressing (just enough to coat the mushrooms). Let them cook for another minute and remove from heat.
Note:    This can be done while the fish is in the oven.

Sweet Potato Puree

10 oz Okinawan purple sweet potato (or regular sweet potato), peeled and cubed
1 garlic cloves, minced
0.5 shallot, peeled and minced
1 Tbs unsalted butter
0.25 cup heavy whipping cream
sea salt (or kosher salt) – a couple pinches

Place the cubed sweet potato, garlic, and shallot in a sauce pot and fill with enough water to cover and season with a couple pinches of sea salt. Boil the potatoes until soft, adding water as needed to keep the potatoes submerged. Drain the potatoes in a colander, but be sure to reserve about 2 cups of the liquid. Place the potatoes, cream, butter, and a half cup of the cooking liquid in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  You may need to add some more of the cooking liquid to get it nice and smooth.
Note:    This can definitely be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.  When you’re ready to use it, heat the puree in a small sauce pot over medium-low heat.

Citrus Soy Dressing

2 limes
1 lemon
1 orange
0.5 cup    soy sauce
0.5 cup    roasted sesame oil (or olive oil)

Cut the limes, lemon, and orange in half and squeeze the juice from each into a bowl and remove any seeds that may fall in. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and whisk together.
Note:    This can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, just be sure to give it a couple good shakes or mix the dressing with a whisk.

Brown Butter Sauce (optional, but delicious)

8 oz unsalted butter
0.25 cup lemon juice
0.25 cup soy sauce
0.25 cup rice wine vinegar
0.25 cup mirin (or sweet cooking wine)
0.25 cup grated parmesan cheese
0.5 cup    heavy whipping cream

In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, and cheese and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into a blender. Blend on medium while slowly pouring in the cream.
Note:    This can be made ahead and will be semi-solid.  When needed, heat a few table spoons over low heat until melted.

To Assemble:
Spoon some sweet potato puree onto each plate.
Divide the mushrooms evenly between the plates.
Place the fish portions on each plate, and drizzle a little of the Brown Butter sauce on top of each piece of fish.
Garnish with some of the sliced green onions.

Where to find ingredients:
While Arctic Char may not be commonly available at grocery stores, it is in the salmon family, so salmon serves as an excellent substitute.  However, if you enjoy cooking seafood at home, talk to seafood retailers in your area.  They often carry a wide variety of fish and some of them may be able to order specialty fish for you.

The variety of Japanese mushrooms listed can all be found at:
Joong Boo Market
3333 N. Kimball Avenue

Purple sweet potatoes are available from time to time at Joong Boo, but other varieties of sweet potato work just as well.

Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, mirin, and sesame oil can be found in most supermarkets, usually in the international or asian food sections.

Another source for Japanese ingredients:
Mitsuwa Marketplace
100 E Algonquin Rd
Arlington Heights

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