Chef Ned Bell’s Arctic Char

Pan-Seared Arctic Char with Lentils, Parsnips, and Vanilla Vinaigrette

We caught up with Chef Ned Bell at Christmas in November where he demonstrated this tasty Arctic Char from his new cookbook, Lure! You can also make this with chicken, he mentioned, as he often does when cooking for his kids as some of them prefer poultry. This is a great book and I am looking forward to getting into it more.

Chef Ned Bell

Serves 4
Vanilla vinaigrette
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1½ tsp honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp sea salt
½ cup canola oil

Roasted parsnips
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into various sizes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Parsnip puree
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

2 cups dried Laird, beluga, or Le Puy lentils, picked over, rinsed, and drained
6 cups cold water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Arctic Char
4 (4 to 5 oz) skin-on arctic char fillets
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 lemon, halved
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
¼ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts, for garnish

Chef Ned Bell

Vanilla vinaigrette Combine the vinegar, vanilla, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. While whisking,  slowly drizzle the oil in a thin steady stream until incorporated and the mixture is emulsified.

Adjust seasoning to taste. (Alternatively, you can do this with an immersion blender or in a blender or small food processor.) Can be made ahead of time; will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Roasted parsnips Preheat the oven to 400°f. Combine the parsnips and olive oil in a large bowl, toss, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden brown, tender, and slightly caramelized.

Parsnip pure Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Salt generously and add the parsnips. Boil for about 15 minutes, until very tender. Drain, transfer to a blender or food processor, and add the butter or oil. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lentils In a large saucepan, combine the lentils, water, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low heat and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain off any excess water. Remove and discard the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made several days ahead and refrigerated. Reheat before serving.)

Arctic Char Preheat the oven to 400°f. Use paper towels to pat-dry the fish, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Carefully lay the fish in the pan skin side down. (If necessary, cook the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding, which will keep the fish from caramelizing properly.) Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 minute, or until a golden crust forms on the skin. Flip the fillets over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until browned. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the fish is opaque in the center and flakes easily. Remove from the oven and add the butter to the pan. Allow it to melt while you squeeze the lemon over the fish. Use a spoon to baste each fillet with the buttery juices for about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.

To assemble, put the fish on a platter or individual plates, add the pureed and roasted parsnips, and spoon over the warm lentils.


Top with the vinaigrette and garnish with parsley and hazelnuts. Serve.

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