Blackened Arctic Char with Asparagus Orzo Blackened Arctic Char with Asparagus Orzo

Food styling by Ashley Denton | Prop styling by Catherine Doherty Image by: James Tse

Arctic char looks much like salmon, yet it boasts a milder, more delicate flavour; it's also a more sustainable choice. If you can't find it in stores, you can substitute with rainbow trout. Arctic char fillets can be quite large, so cut them into smaller portions, if needed, before coating them in the spice mix.

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Total time 20 minutes
  • Portion size 4 servings


Asparagus Orzo:
Blackened Arctic Char:


Blackened Arctic Char: In shallow dish, stir together paprika, thyme, oregano, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper; dredge in paprika mixture, turning to coat both sides and shaking off excess.

In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook fish, turning once, until dark golden, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cook, turning once, until fish flakes easily when tested, 3 to 5 minutes.

Asparagus Orzo:
While fish is cooking, in large saucepan of boiling lightly salted water, cook orzo for 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente. Add asparagus; cook until orzo is al dente and asparagus is tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, drain. Return orzo mixture to pan.

Stir in Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, salt, pepper and enough of the reserved cooking liquid to lightly coat orzo. Stir in half of the basil. Divide among serving plates; top with Blackened Arctic Char. Sprinkle with remaining basil.

Tip from The Test Kitchen: You can substitute salmon for the arctic char, but choose fish raised in recirculating aquaculture systems if you're concerned about sustainability. Most salmon comes from open-net farms, which are not considered eco-friendly.

Nutritional facts per serving: about

  • Fibre 5 g
  • Sodium 809 mg
  • Sugars 2 g
  • Protein 32 g
  • Calories 379.0
  • Total fat 11 g
  • Potassium 750 mg
  • Cholesterol 74 mg
  • Saturated fat 3 g
  • Total carbohydrate 40 g


  • Iron 29.0
  • Folate 79.0
  • Calcium 10.0
  • Vitamin A 34.0
  • Vitamin C 25.0
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Lunch & Dinner

Blackened Arctic Char with Asparagus Orzo