This Ramp and Arctic Char Recipe Makes the Most of the Rare Spring Vegetable

Ramps are only available on the East Coast for a brief window each spring, which means time is running out to make this pan-roasted Arctic char and ramp recipe. If you’re having trouble finding the foraged allium, leeks or scallions make great substitutes.
Time is running out to make this spring dish.
Time is running out to make this spring dish. / The Institute of Culinary Education

In an age when mass-produced vegetables are shipped to supermarkets around the world, ramps remain elusive. The allium is foraged from forest hillsides east of the Mississippi River, and it’s only available for a brief window each spring. If you’re lucky enough to pick some up from your local farmers market, this dish is the perfect application.

The recipe below from The Institute of Culinary Education pairs sautéed ramps with pan-roasted Arctic char. Like ramps, Arctic char can be hard to find at your local supermarket. You may need to go to a speciality seafood shop to purchase the fish. But don’t let the ingredients list stop you from trying the recipe at home; according to ICE culinary arts chef-instructor Gill Boyd, the dish is highly adaptable.

“If you cannot find ramps, I suggest you use leeks that are washed and sliced—the white parts of the leeks,” he tells Mental Floss. “You can even use scallions, like three quarters of a scallion with the root part taken off, and that’s a similar texture to a wild ramp. They’re all in the onion family.”

When substituting the fish, Boyd recommends going with another cold-water variety. “Stick in the realm of any type of salmon or trout,” he says.

The recipe starts by cooking the fish filets in a skillet with butter until both sides are golden-brown. In the same pan, sauté the ramps with more butter until soft, and then add stock to the pan and allow it to reduce. Remove the ramps and create a sauce with the remaining liquid in the pan by adding more butter, lemon juice, and thyme. Serve the ramps and fish together on a plate and drizzle with the pan sauce.

ICE offers courses in the culinary arts, pastry and baking arts, and hospitality and hotel management. With campuses on both coasts, it’s one of the largest schools of its kind. If you’re interested in furthering your culinary education, you can view their curricula online.

Pan-Roasted Arctic Char with Caramelized Ramps

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds Arctic char filet, cut in 5 ounces pieces with skin on
2 lemons, juiced
9 ounces butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
8–10 ounces ramps, washed and cut in 2-inch pieces
½ cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, then add 3 ounces of butter to melt.
  2. Add filets skin side down, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook filets until light brown on both sides then set aside and keep warm.
  4. In the same pan over medium heat add 3 ounces of butter, let it melt, then add ramps.
  5. Stir for five minutes then add the stock and let reduce until almost dry.
  6. Turn off the heat, season the ramps and set aside.
  7. In the same pan, add the rest of the butter, let it melt over medium heat, and add lemon juice and thyme.
  8. Cook the juice for two minutes.
  9. Arrange the filets on plates with ramps and pour the pan juices over them.

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