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      I HEART Blue Sea

      July 12, 2010

      Me, age 1, at Avila Beach, California

      Me, age 1, at Avila Beach, California

      I have always loved the ocean.  It has always been a part of my life.  Growing up along the Central Coast of California it was a big part of my childhood.  I spent most of my childhood in San Luis Obispo, a medium-sized California city half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  From a very young age I swam in the ocean.  My parents tell me they couldn’t keep me out of the water.  San Luis Obispo lies inland from the coast by a half hour driving.  The closest beach is Avila Beach — a place where I spent many a summer day swimming in the waves, body surfing, and playing in the sand.  For my single mother it was an inexpensive way to spend a weekend day; she got to relax in the sun while my sister and I wore ourselves out.  We usually went home sunburned and covered in sand.

      I Love Blue Sea 044

      Pan Roasted Arctic Char, Cannellini Beans, Baby Artichokes & Preserved Lemons

      I have also enjoyed eating the food that comes from the sea.  Being that we lived so close to the coast seafood was a big part of our diet growing up.  Both my great-grandfather and great-uncle fished the Central Coast waters.  My mother often took us to Morro Bay, a coastal town north of San Luis, for fish and chips dinner.  The lingcod used in the meal was caught a few miles out to sea.  In those days no one gave a second thought to overfishing, pollution, and questions of sustainability.  Now we must.  We have no choice.  We are quickly depleting our seafood sources.  I find it horribly sad.

      I recently met Martin Reed who started a sustainable fish company called i love blue sea.  It’s a genius idea.  I know for myself that when I’m in a store at the fish counter my eyes cross, I hyperventilate, I can’t remember which fish is the ‘right’ fish, wild, or farmed; all that confusion overwhelms me and I often don’t buy anything.  Martin’s company takes the guess work out of the process.  He sells nothing but sustainable fish, and he ships it anywhere in the U.S, overnight.  Here’s a quick rundown from i love blue sea’s website:  “Wondering where to buy seafood online?  No more guesswork!  Only the highest quality sustainable seafood.  Every dollar spent supports fisheries driving our ocean’s recovery.  It’s a simple, nutritious and delicious way for you to make a positive change!”  Martin recently sent me some Arctic char and asked me to come up with a recipe which I did.  Here’s to the health of our oceans and all the creatures that live in them.

      I Love Blue Sea 034

      Pan Roasted Arctic Char, Cannellini Beans, Baby Artichokes and Preserved Lemons

      There are several components to this dish but the end result is well worth the time it takes to prepare it.  The beans can easily be made ahead of time.  The sequence should be:  prepare the beans first, then prepare and cook the artichokes about 30 – 40 minutes before cooking the fish.  The preserved lemons may be purchased from a specialty food store, or you may make your own but it takes 3 – 4 weeks before they are ‘preserved’ and ready to eat.



      Preparation Time

      2 – 2 ½ hours, all components except for the preserved lemons

      Cannellini Beans

      Preparation Time

      45 – 60 minutes


      4 – 14 oz. cans of cannellini beans, drained OR 4 cups cooked beans

      6 – 8 garlic cloves, chopped

      4 – 5 medium sized tomatoes, cut in 1/4ths, or 1/8ths wedges

      8 – 10 Tbs olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan

      1 tsp salt

      1/4 tsp pepper

      1 tsp herbes de Provence


      Sauté garlic in olive oil in medium sized skillet, or sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute.  Do not brown.

      Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and herbes de provence.  Stir together and cook until tomatoes soften and lose their shape about 4 – 6 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

      Add beans and stir together with tomato-garlic mixture.  Cook until beans are heated through about 5 minutes or so.  Check seasonings, and add salt if needed.

      Baby Artichokes

      Preparation Time

      45 minutes


      1 lb. baby artichokes, about 10 artichokes

      1 lemon

      3 – 4 Tbs olive oil

      2 large cloves garlic, minced

      ¾ tsp salt

      Pepper, freshly ground to taste


      Cut  the lemon in half, squeeze into a bowl of water with several ice cubes.  Save the lemon halves.

      Remove tough outer leaves of artichoke, cut 1 inch off top, and rub with the lemon halves.  Add the artichokes to the ice water.  They can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours until ready to cook.

      Cut the artichokes in half, return to ice water if not cooking immediately.  If ready to cook, cut them in half, drain off excess water but don’t dry, and place in a 10 – 12 inch skillet, cut side down.  Drizzle them with water, sprinkle garlic over.  Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of water to the pan, just enough to keep them moist while cooking.

      Cover the pan and place over low heat.  After about 5 minutes check to be sure they are cooking and that the water has not cooked away.  After 10 minutes turn them over and recover.  As they cook check to be sure water doesn’t completely cook away.  Keep them barely moist.  If you hear a sizzle, add more water.  Let cook for 20 – 30 minutes.  When they are cooked they will be tender, and there will be almost no liquid left.  Season with ground pepper.

      Arctic Char

      Preparation Time

      10 – 15 minutes


      2 ½ lbs., Arctic char fillets, skin removed

      4 -5 Tbs. olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan


      Season the fish with salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the fish.  Allow to cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes each side.

      To Serve

      Reheat the beans over low heat while the fish is cooking.  When beans are hot spoon a thick layer of beans on to a platter, or serving dish, or directly onto dinner plates.  Lay the cooked fish fillets atop the beans, add the baby artichokes around the fish, garnish top of fish with roughly sliced, or cut pieces of preserved lemon.

      Preserved Lemons, (Optional)

      Preparation Time

      45 minutes


      10 ripe Meyer, or organic lemons

      1/2 cup coarse salt, Kosher salt may be used

      Extra virgin olive oil


      Scrub 6 of the lemons and dry well.  Quarter the 6 lemons cutting from the top to 1/2 inch from the bottom leaving them intact at the base.  Open the lemons gently and sprinkle salt on the exposed inner flesh, then reshape the fruit.  Toss with the remaining salt and pack into a 3-4 cup dry, sterile Mason jar with a glass or plastic-coated lid.

      With a wooden spoon, gently push down the lemons.  Squeeze the juice from the remaining 4 lemons and pour into the jar.  Close the jar tightly and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for 30 days, shaking the jar each day to redistribute the salt and juice.  (Within a few days the salt will draw out enough juice to completely cover the lemons.)

      For longer storage, add olive oil and refrigerate for up to 1 year.  Rinse the lemons before using.

      Print Recipe

      Recommendation: Savor Los Angeles, Friday, July 30th, 7pm to 10pm ~ a sweets tasting event of one-of-a-kind bites from an exclusive set of L.A.’s best purveyors of sweet treats.

      Coming Up: International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC), August 27 – 29, 2010, Seattle Washington.  So much fun last year that I’ll be attending again this year.  Are you?

      Upcoming Posts: Cochon 555 Napa, a write up of the amazing pork festival that I attended this spring. Cookbook Reviews: Steak and Friends: At Home with Rick Tramonto by Rick Tramonto, Spice Dreams by Sara Engram and Katie Luber, Cider Beans, Wild Greens, and Dandelion Jelly by Joan E. Aller.

      12 Comments on “I HEART Blue Sea”

      1. Phil says:

        Your recipe looks and sounds fantastic, Charles. I can’t remember the last time I saw Arctic Char available anywhere. Martin has got the right idea, and I thank you again for introducing me to him. The conversation we shared shed a lot of light on what ’sustainable’ species are. And truth be told, I can do without the rest. I never knew how much I truly loved sardines before. Knowing that I’m not depleting the sea when I enjoy them makes me feel a lot better.

        Love your pictures too. You put cannellini beans in a dish, and I’m all over it.

      2. Thank you, Phil. Really appreciate the kind words. I think I may have eaten Arctic char in restaurants but I think you’re right – don’t really see it in stores. I’m a new convert. Martin is doing a great thing – I’m happy I (we) can support him.

      3. Yummm. I loved the flavor and texture of the fish and the pairing of it with the beans and artichokes!

      4. Thanks for introducing us all to “i love blue sea”. Great resource to have for seafood. I have never heard of Arctic Char. Is it mild in flavor?
        Those were the days back then and look at how cute you were! (Not that you aren’t handsome, now!)
        Looking forward to your next post.

      5. Blanche says:

        Thanks for making me aware of i love blue sea. Wonderful idea! Also kudos for incorporating your previous articles’ subjects into this recipe – preserved lemons and cannellini beans.

      6. Robert: Muchas gracias!

        Traci: I definitely recommend i love blue sea. Arctic Char is mild in flavor, orange in color like salmon, the texture of trout. It’s really good. Thanks re the pics!

        Adele: It’s a great company. Even you guys can get fish from them. Thanks for noticing the incorporation — I created the recipe over time.

      7. Bill Mona says:

        I was lucky enough to be a guest at Charles’ table for this delicious meal. Everything from the flavor of the food to the presentation were perfect. Amazing!!

      8. Thank you, Bill. So glad you guys were there and that you enjoyed the food, the evening!

      9. Katie Krupp says:

        Oh Charles, this sounds wonderful! I can’t wait to try it.

        My Cannellini beans were a hit at the 4th of July BBQ, but I had to make them with Great Northern beans because it seems that Cannellini beans just don’t exist in SLO. I probably overlooked the one store that has them, but I did try quite a few. Oh well, they were still good. Thanks.

      10. Thanks so much,Katie! I am SO happy that your beans were a hit. I’m glad you decided to substitute Great Northerns and that they worked so well. Any white bean should work well in the recipe.

      11. The preserved lemons are so nice, so nice. This is a new way to see them used too. Very fresh and light!

      12. Thanks, Chrystal! Preserved lemons add such a unique taste to any dish.

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