For a bright, flavorful pick-me-up this dreary winter, Chef Candy Argondizza has the recipe for you.
The vice president of culinary and pastry arts at the International Culinary Center recently added a sautéed arctic char with curried Greek yogurt sauce to the menu at L'Ecole (462 Broadway, 212-219-3300, www.lecolenyc.com), the school's in-house restaurant. And though it's made by gourmet chefs-in-training, the recipe is simple enough for those looking to try the flavorful dish at home.
"It is definitely doable for the home cook," said Argondizza. "It's just packed with flavor and a lot of brightness, which is nice to wake up your palate."
The key is the contrast of flavors. Olive oil-marinated cucumbers are the bed of the dish, sitting in a curried yogurt sauce that is then circled by a carrot and dill vinaigrette for a splash of color. The Arctic char, a cross between trout and salmon, sits on top, with a layer of crunch cucumber finishing it off.
"The char lends itself really well with all those flavors," said Argondizza. "You feel good after you eat it, you're not bloated with a lot of carbohydrates."
Argondizza recommends buying the char from a place that sells a lot of fish, so you're confident that it's fresh. She usually shops at the Chelsea Market or Wild Edibles Seafood in Murray Hill.
"Always ask to see the fish up close and personal," said Argondizza. "Ask to smell the fish, too. It should smell like the ocean. Your nose is really the first indicator if something is off."
The gluten-free dish lends itself to variation, too so if you can't find Arctic char, you can substitute it for salmon, which also pairs well with cucumbers. You can also use fat-free yogurt to further cut calories if you're counting. If you don't have a juicer to make the carrot and dill vinaigrette, you can look for carrot juice in the grocery store.
If you're slightly putt off by the involved recipe, which features separate recipes for the vinaigrette, curried yogurt, cucumbers and char, Argondizza assured that the dish should take about a half an hour if you're organized. You can keep it on your repertoire beyond winter, too, to whip up a flavorful, healthy meal at home.
"The vegetables in it can transcend the seasons," said Argondizza. "Cucumbers are always around."
L’Ecole’s Arctic Char with Curried Yogurt, Cucumbers and Carrot-Dill Vinaigrette
490 grams Greek yogurt
2 T. water
2 T. cider vinegar
2 T. lime juice
1 T. honey
1 T. Madras curry powder
1 t. finely chopped mint leaves
1 t. finely chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine yogurt with remaining ingredients, whisk to blend.
2. Adjust seasoning. Hold at room temperature.
500 milliliters carrot juice, freshly squeezed
1 t. white miso paste
2 t. grainy mustard
1 egg yolk
1 T. cider vinegar
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
250 mL vegetable oil
1 T. finely chopped dill
1. Place carrot juice over medium heat in small saucepan. Reduce juice by half, remove from heat to cool.
2. Combine carrot juice with miso paste, mustard, egg yolk, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a Vita Prep. Purée until smooth.
3. With the blender running, slowly add the oil until the vinaigrette has emulsified.
4. The vinaigrette should be creamy, bright orange and well-balanced. Stir in the dill and set aside.
60 mL white balsamic vinegar
60 mL lime juice
60 mL lemon juice
6 Persian cucumbers
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
Salt and ground black pepper
3 T. finely chopped dill
1. Combine balsamic vinegar, lime and lemon juice in a squeeze bottle.
2. Slice 5 cucumbers into ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandoline. Cut remaining cucumbers in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Slice seeded cucumber halves into ¼-in.-thick pieces.
3. Marinate the half moon cucumbers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
4. Place 8 cucumber ribbons in a bowl and drizzle with some of the vinegar mixture. Add a pinch of chopped dill and season with salt and pepper to taste.
8 (150 g.) fillets
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Oil, as needed
1. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add fish and gently sauté both sides until medium rare. Remove, set aside.
2. Spoon 2 T. of curried yogurt onto the center of the plate.
3. Place marinated cucumber ribbons on top of yogurt and carefully place the char on top.
4. Spoon carrot-dill vinaigrette around the plate, garnish char with 2-3 cucumber half moons. Garnish with fresh dill.
Yield: 8 servings