If you’re new here, you might not be familiar with braided proteins. You can cut, braid and cook a variety of proteins to make more of a statement at mealtime. I’ve done a few recipes with this braiding concept, and they’re always so fun and delicious! While vetting some recipe ideas, I stumbled upon the idea of a braided protein wreath. Now this seemed like some next level cooking, so you know I had to give it a whirl! Here’s my take on a smoked arctic char wreath.
Arctic Char – The Fish We Didn’t Know Existed.
If this is the first time you’re hearing of Arctic Char, just know you’ve likely seen it without realizing. Arctic Char is a cold water fish that is best described as a beautiful blend between salmon and trout. If you’re not looking specifically for it at the grocer, your brain will likely automatically categorize it as salmon and move on. The meat has a lovely orange/pink coloring, which made it the perfect candidate for our braided wreath. I picked two of them up along with the ingredients for my Sriracha Honey Glaze and headed back home to get to cooking this Smoked Arctic Char Wreath recipe!
Braiding, Not Just Child’s Play for this Smoked Arctic Char Wreath
The majority of the work for this recipe is done during the prepping stage due to the braiding needed to make our wreath. I started by laying a single fillet out. You will be making two cuts into the fillet, with the goal of creating three equally sized strands of meat to braid. It’s important to note that these cuts should start about an inch below the top of the fillet. This will allow the three strands you’re creating to stay attached at the top and make braiding so much easier. Make your cuts and get your braid on! Carefully braid the fillet back together and secure the end with a toothpick. Repeat this process with the second fillet.
Now it’s time to combine both our fillets to create the wreath. I attached the ends of each fish to the other, forming a circle and securing with two more toothpicks. Last step before we get to cooking is throwing some seasoning on our wreath. No one likes a naked wreath, and few like plain food so it’s time to throw down some spice. For my Smoked Arctic Char Wreath, I mixed together garlic, onion, umami, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cane sugar, salt and pepper. Talk about flavor blasted!
That’s One Smokin’ Arctic Char Wreath
After your arctic char wreath is decorated with a variety of seasonings, it’s time to CAREFULLY transfer it over to a plank and place it on your preheated smoker. Notice my emphasis on carefully, this is mostly a “note to self”, but thought you might need it too. We didn’t have a singular cedar plank large enough for our wreath, so we put two planks side by side and that did the trick.
I cooked our wreath for about an hour and let it reach an internal temperature of 135F. While the fish is cooking go ahead and grab all the ingredients for the glaze. All you need is butter, honey, sriracha and lemon juice. Combine all those ingredients in a sauce bowl about 10 minutes before it’s time to pull the wreath off.
Let’s eat this Smoked Arctic Char Wreath!
Once the smoked arctic char wreath is cooked to your liking and your glaze is melted together pull them both off the smoker. From here you can drizzle the glaze over your wreath. We used a spoon, but I’m also a fan of carefully pouring it over the top of the wreath. I garnished with some scallions and had some grilled lemons on the side for anyone that would like more of a zing. Grab some utensils and enjoy!
Smoked Arctic Char Wreath
- 2 Whole Sides of Arctic Char de-skinned
- Chopped Scallions for garnish
- 1 Lemon sliced in half for garnish
- 2 tsp of Minced Dried Garlic
- 2 tsp of Minced Dried Onion
- 2 tsp of Umami Powder
- 1.5 tsp of Black Pepper
- 1.5 tsp of Sea Salt
- 1 tsp of Sesame Seeds
- 1 tsp of Poppy Seeds
- 1 tsp of Cane Sugar
- 2 tsp of Canola Oil
- 2 tbsp of Butter
- 1 tbsp of Honey
- 2 tsp of Sriracha
- ½ of a Lemon juiced
- Begin by slicing lengthwise each of your arctic char filets into 3 equally sized pieces. Tip: slice from the tail side of the fish, and keep each piece still connected at that end. When done slicing, begin braiding each filet then securely pin the loose end with a toothpick. Using the two braided filets, make a circle mimicking a wreath. Pin the two filets at each point of contact, then lather with oil. Mix your seasoning and thoroughly spread it out over the fish. Place fish in the fridge until ready to cook.
- Preheat your smoker for indirect cooking at medium-low heat (around 300F).
- Add two medium sized cedar planks to your smoker to preheat 2 minutes before cooking. Add the arctic char wreath onto the cedar planks and begin cooking. Cook for about 1-1.5 hours until the fish is 135F internal. Once done, pull off and let rest.
- While resting, add a basting skillet over direct heat of the fire along with some lemon halves. Add all the ingredients for the Sriracha Butter, and let melt. Once melted, pull off fire.
- Lather over your fish the Sriracha Butter sauce. Garnish with chopped scallions, charred lemons and enjoy!