Smoked Arctic Char with Lemon Dill Aioli


Net the fresh taste of the sea's other fish with these unconventional catches


Cobia. Monkfish. Arctic Char. They have funny names and aren't always as pretty as the typical catch such as red fish, salmon, and snapper. But they taste sublime and are making a splash on high-end and casual restaurant menus nationwide. Sustainability, diversity, and over-fishing of popular fish, such as halibut, are some reasons for the uptick in cooking these and other lesser-known fish swimming in waters around the globe. It really all comes down to flavor, though, and these savory recipes from club chefs will have you throwing back your go-to tilapia. Reel 'em in!

Bring the smoky flavor of grilled food indoors by roasting fish on a cedar wood plank in the oven. Executive chef John Miller of Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club in Coto de Caza, Calif., combines smoky cobia with buttery, sweet, and savory flavors and serves it with charred Brussels sprouts for another flavor dimension.

6 small cedar planks
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 center-cut cobia fillets (6 ounces each)
fresh ground black pepper
Charred Brussels Sprouts (recipe follows)

Soak the wood planks in water for at least 4 hours. Remove and pat dry.

In a large saute pan, heat butter until it begins to brown. Add the sage and let cook for 30 seconds. Add maple syrup and stir to combine. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat broiler to 425 degrees. Rub planks with canola oil. Season cobia fillets with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and place on the planks. Divide the maple-sage butter into two small bowls and brush the top of the fish generously with half of it, reserving the rest.

Place the planks in the broiler 6 inches from the overhead heat source with a cookie sheet below to catch residual glaze. Roast 7 minutes, checking frequently. Remove from the broiler and serve with Charred Brussels Sprouts. Drizzle the reserved maple sage butter on the fish as the final sauce.

Yield: 6 servings


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pints Brussels sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
2 cups vegetable stock
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced

On high heat in a large nonstick skillet or cast-iron pan, melt butter and oil together and allow the butter to brown slightly. Add the Brussels sprouts and saute until golden brown and they begin to char. Once some caramelization appears, add 1 cup of vegetable stock and reduce until the liquid dissolves. Add the second cup of vegetable stock and reduce again until almost dry. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. 

About Cobia: "It has a very flaky texture and low fat content, making it a healthy fish to eat," says Chef Miller. "Since cobia is very neutral and mild tasting, it adapts to different cooking techniques and flavor profiles with great ease."

Chef's Tip: "For extra flavor, season your plank with a smear of olive oil, sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, chopped fresh sage, or other herbs before you set your fish on top to roast or grill it." - Executive chef John Miller

Executive chef James Morris of Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, Calif., cuts thin paillards and pan-fries this meaty fish, which tastes like a cross between white fish and lobster. He celebrates the bounty of winter citrus with a juicy fennel citrus salad, a perfect complement to the crispy fish.

2-1/2 pounds monkfish tail, skin removed
1-1/2 cups Wondra flour
1 grapefruit
2 oranges, navel or Valencia
2 blood oranges
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Fennel Citrus Salad (recipe follows)
seeds from 1 pomegranate
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Cut the monkfish into 12 pieces, each 2-3 ounces and about 1-inch thick. Place the fish paillards between two layers of plastic wrap, and lightly pound with a meat mallet to flatten.

In a large bowl, add the Wondra flour. Zest the skin of the grapefruit, one orange, and the blood oranges, and add the zest to the flour. Reserve the whole grapefruit, orange, and blood oranges to make the Fennel Citrus Salad.

Heat a large nonstick pan on medium-high heat with the olive oil until the oil is just rippling. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly dredge through the flour mixture. Cook the fish on one side 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side. Blot fish on paper towels.

To serve, top with Fennel Citrus Salad and pomegranate seeds, and lightly drizzle with pomegranate molasses.

Yield: 6 servings


reserved grapefruit, oranges, and blood oranges from above recipe
3 clementines, peeled
2 fennel bulbs, sliced thinly or shaved crosswise
1 shallot bulb, finely minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Working over a large bowl, supreme the citrus, letting the fruit and juices collect in the bowl. Add the fennel, shallot, olive oil, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let the salad marinate in the refrigerator while you cook the fish.

About Monkfish: "It's found in waters from the Norwegian coast to the Mediterranean and from the Grand Banks up to North Carolina," Chef Morris says. "It is often referred to as poor man's lobster for its similar texture and flavor profile. It is a lean fish with high moisture content and lends itself to many cooking methods."

Chef's Tip: "I like to use Wondra flour [a high-quality, enriched flour milled from a select blend of wheat] to coat fish because it develops a crisp crust and keeps the fish moist and flavor packed." - Executive chef James Morris

Executive chef Don Dastrup of the University of Texas Club in Austin brines Arctic char first to keep it moist and to speed up the smoking process. If you use a charcoal grill rather than electric smoker, place fish over indirect heat until it flakes easily, about 40 minutes.

4 cups kosher salt
1/2 gallon water
2 lemons, juiced
1 bunch dill, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 side Arctic char, skin on, about 3 pounds
pecan smoking chips, soaked at least 15 minutes in water in advance
Lemon Dill Aioli (recipe follows)
fried kale
lemon slices, capers, and diced pickled red onions, for garnish

For the brine, place salt, water, juiced lemons, dill, and brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk until ingredients dissolve. Place the fish in a plastic container and cover with the brine for about 2 hours. Remove the fish from the brine and let it dry on a sheet pan overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat your electric smoker for 200 degrees for 1 hour. Add the soaked pecan chips. Place fish skin-side down on an oiled wire rack, and smoke for 1 hour. When finished, the fish should be slightly firm and pale pink. Let cool before removing from the rack.Serve with Lemon Dill Aioli, fried kale, lemon slices, capers, and diced pickled red onions.

Yield: 6 servings


2 cups mayonnaise
1 lemon, juice
1/2 cup capers, chopped
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until needed.

About Arctic Char: "A member of the salmon family, it has the typical shape, color, and flavor of salmon and swims in the Arctic, but the majority consumed in the U.S. is farm  raised," says Chef Dastrup.

More Recipes for members of ClubCorp clubs

For three more delicious recipes using atypical fish, log on to on your mobile device, click on Private Clubs, and then click on the Bonus Content headline.

• Pecan-Crusted Triggerfish With Spiced Rum Butter Sauce
• Sauteed Lionfish With White Bean Ragu
• Roasted Sablefish With Fennel Puree and Cranberry-Apple Agrodolce

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