My family and some close friends came over for a potluck on Midwinter. For the occasion I stuffed a whole Arctic char, and some of the people in attendance asked for a recipe. As the vast majority of my cooking is done without measurements or concrete plans, this may not be a recipe as much as it is more of my usual ramblings. But I'll do what I can.
Arctic char is quite similar to salmon, a bit more mild and very juicy, verging on oily. It's smaller than even sockeye, the smallest of the salmon with which I am familiar, making purchasing a whole one a relatively reasonable thing to do. It is also more sustainable than salmon, usually being farm raised in clean inland lakes and pools. They're pretty, too, often having speckled sides.
I didn't work the day of the party, but my coworkers were kind enough to save one for me and let me sneak into our back room to use our cutting block and good knives. I left the head and tail on but cleaned and butterflied the fish, leaving it whole but removing the guts, gills, spine, ribs, and pin bones. You should be able to ask your fishmonger to do this for you, but be warned: not all fishmongers necessarily know how to do all of this. I'd recommend making inquiries ahead of time. Working illicitly, for my own benefit and in my good clothes, was magnificent. I'll have to do it more often. I dripped a bit of fish slime on my Italian boots, and was simultaneously horrified and delighted. My favourite coworker applauded, insisting that fish scales on good boots ought to be taken as a sure sign that one is living correctly.
Once home I put the fish in the refrigerator to wait for me while I sautéed a large diced red onion and a great many chopped carrots of various colours in local organic butter, a bit of raw honey, and some sea salt and spices. I believe I used mustard seeds, coriander, thyme, lavender, and red pepper flakes, but spices, to my mind, ought to be left to your whims at the moment that you're cooking. While the carrots and onions did what they were meant to be doing, I put some walnuts in the oven for a few minutes. Once all three were ready for me, I stirred in the walnuts as well as more of the spices, some dried cranberries, and about four slices of bread that I'd allowed to go a bit stale, seasoned, and sliced into cubes. I sautéed that for another minute or two before turning off the heat and ignoring it while I paid attention to my fish. I wanted to glaze it, so I painted the outside of the char, head and tail and all, with more of my raw honey. I'd never painted a fish before, and I enjoyed it, so I painted the inside as well on a whim. I'm glad that I did.
I then convinced as much of the fish as possible to fit inside of my pan and stuffed it with the stuffing I'd made. Sometimes I'll use cooking twine that I borrow from work to tie the belly closed, but in a roasting pan it just doesn't seem necessary. I knew that I had and that I'd want more stuffing than would fit inside of the fish, so I allowed it to spill out into the pan. I then put the pan in the refrigerator and ignored it until halfway through the party, at which point my oven was no longer busy with my mother's vegetable lasagne. I believe I baked it at four-hundred degrees Fahrenheit for forty minutes. When it was done we ate it, and I gave the blackened tail to Tappy, claiming that it was the last remnants of a baby mermaid that I'd burnt for her benefit.