Dish Inspiration: 265 Arctic Char w/ Castelvetrano

265 Arctic Char w/ Castelvetrano Olives
First on menu: 4/15
Created by: Soa Davies

Sustainable, farm-raised arctic char, simply prepared with a brush of oil with edamame succotash, whole grains, and roasted carrots.

This dish is not only one of our favorites, but it was also one of the very first dishes Maple every created. Here, Soa Davies gives us a look at how it came to be.

Soa: I worked for many many years at Le Bernardin so obviously the genesis of the dish is the fact that I worked with seafood for so long. Arctic char is a fish that I particularly like because it’s very tender and buttery. It’s an unctuous fish that doesn’t have a very strong “fish” flavor, if you know what I mean. It’s very similar to salmon without it having all of the negative connotations of farm-raised fish because their farming practices are lower-impact and the fish themselves are smaller. Arctic char take up less environmental room and produce less environmental waste. It’s one of the first 100% sustainable farm-raised fish.

That’s really great, yes. And the flavor holds up well too, then?

Soa: Arctic char goes really well with the fattiness and the richness of castelvetrano olives. That was one of the very first combinations that we started playing with. The Castelvetrano is one of my favorite green olives because it’s so buttery and so rich, itself. It’s a good combination with the meatiness of the Arctic char. This is one of those situations where you take the best possible ingredients and do very little and— because of the quality of the ingredients—the dish tastes good.

And it eats very light?

Soa: Well, this is a summery dish, so we wanted something fresh and light. Edamame, in this particular case, is a very fresh addition to the side of succotash, which would typically be a very buttery, rich, Southern side. Instead, we cut out all of the butter and put just a little bit of olive oil, then we added the corn, jalapeno, and the peppers.

And why grains as a bed for the fish?

Soa: I think we wanted to just add more protein and more depth; a solid feel to the dish rather than just a green bed. I think whole grains in general are very healthy and filling. And then, you have the lightness of the fish and the olives. It’s about creating balance. We wanted to have texture because a lot of time I feel like if you think of a grains mix, most people are just expecting quinoa. This one has barley and farro but then it also has a little bit of the texture from flax seeds and a mild, nutty flavor from the sesame seeds. There is a subtleness to what we layer in each dish and how every component has its own distinct identity. We layer those identities until they kind of harmonize in the dish. We wanted a great mouth feel with that pop of the barley and the texture of the sesame seeds.

How long did it take to test this dish in all its iterations?

Soa: I think it went through a three or four-week process. And that’s typically what dishes run, from ideation all the way through to the final plate.

It sounds like that allows you time to focus on the cooking and the ingredients, as well.

Soa: The faster things cook, the better it is and the fresher it’s going to be by the time the dish gets to the customers. The denser the fish, for example, the harder it is to gauge cooking time. I think we’ve had such great responses and success with our seafood because we’re realizing what we can do well. It’s hard to think about all of those steps before they happen but the more we see things being delivered and the more feedback we get, the smarter we become. Which is great, otherwise we’d be stagnant.