Stuffed Whole Fish with Japanese Seasonings

Summer 2012
food and drink

BY: Lucy Waverman

This whole stuffed char has the sparkle of Japanese seasonings to add to its flavour. The rice stuffing can be made ahead of time and also served as a side dish. Sautéed gingered green beans are a good accompaniment. For an alternative to the Arctic char, use salmon or larger pickerel.

½ cup (125 mL) sushi rice, rinsed
2/3 cup (150 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) mirin
1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) wasabi paste
½ tsp (2 mL) sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) diced asparagus
2 cups (500 mL) diced shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped ginger
2 cups (500 mL) packed baby spinach
1 whole Arctic char, about 2 lbs (1 kg), boned and butterflied, with skeleton
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Place rice in a pot with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until rice is just cooked through. Set aside.

2 Combine mirin, soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, wasabi paste and sugar in a bowl. Ina separate bowl place 1 tbsp (15 mL) of vegetable oil and add 2 tbsp (30 mL) of mirin mixture. Reserve for brushing the inside and outside of fish.

3 Heat remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add asparagus, mushrooms and ginger, and stir for 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add spinach and cook for 1 minute longer or until wilted. Add rice and stir to combine. Pour in remaining mirin mixture and stir until rice and vegetables are coated. Let rice mixture cool to room temperature.

4 Heat oven to 450°F (230°C).

5 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place fish on baking sheet. Open up like a book and brush with reserved mirin and oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Fill with as much rice stuffing as will fit (but don’t overstuff) and use kitchen string to tie fish closed in 3 places. Bake remaining stuffing in a covered casserole to serve alongside fish. Brush the skin with remaining mirin and oil mixture.Season lightly with salt.

6 Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until fish is slightly pink in the centre. Let rest for 5 minutes. Remove head, tail, skeleton, string (and skin, if desired); cut into slices.

Serves 6