Crispy Pan Fried Arctic Char with Butternut and Barley Risotto

By Michael Bonacini


  • 2x 6oz Pieces of Arctic Char skin on and scales removed
  • 1/2 Cup Pearl barley
  • 1 Cup of Butternut Squash peeled and diced into 1/4” pieces
  • 2/3 Cups of good vegetable stock
  • 1/2 Small onion, diced
  • 1 Small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Handful of fresh baby Spinach or Arugula
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Sprig fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 Cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. Soft goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • Splash olive oil


  1. In a good size shallow pan over medium heat, lightly sauté the onions garlic for 2/3 minutes without colour in a little olive oil and butter. Then add in the pearl barley and fresh thyme. Continue to sauté gently.
  2. Add the white wine and allow to reduce by half.
  3. Next, add the butternut squash, half the vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer gently with the lid on. Stir every couple of minutes adding a little more stock if needed.
  4. Cook until the barley is just slightly under cooked approximately 30 plus minutes. Turn heat off and let sit.
  5. Take the Arctic char and fry in a non-stick pan, skin side down with a 1/4 tsp olive oil and a sprinkle of good sea salt on the bottom of the pan. Slowly cook the fish skin side only allowing the heat to penetrate through the skin into the delicate flesh. (Tip: This fish dish is best served pink / slightly under cooked for best results.)
  6. While the fish continues to cook finish off the risotto, adding in the fresh spinach or arugula, a tablespoon of butter, grated Parmesan, 1/2 the goat cheese and a little grated zest of lemon.
  7. Stir gently and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  8. Place a serving of the butternut squash risotto on to the serving plates, place the fish skin side up on top of the risotto, add the remaining goat cheese and garnish as you like; lemon, chopped parsley.

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