Other Names: Arctic Char, golets, Salvelinus alpines (L.)
Range & Habitat: Arctic Char is both a freshwater and saltwater fish in the Salmonidae family, native to Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters. No other freshwater fish is found as far north. It is one of the rarest fish species in Britain, found only in deep, cold, glacial lakes, mostly in Scotland and is at risk from acidification. In other parts of its range, such as Scandinavia, it is much more common, and is fished extensively.
Identification & Biology: As member of the Salmanoid family, which includes Salmon and Trout, Char probably resemble Salmon more closely. They occur naturally in the remote cold lakes and rivers of the Northern Hemisphere where the Canadian Inuit in particular have included them in their diet for centuries - frozen, eaten like popsicles. It is due to this extremely cold environment that Char have built up a very high fat content making for a very moist, flavorful fish that is very rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Individual char fish can weigh 20 lb or more with record sized fish having been taken by angling in Northern Canada. Generally, whole market sized fish are between 2 and 5 lb in weight.
Market Description: Arctic char is one of those great species that boasts a fantastically exotic moniker, a very un-intimidating usability, and a flavor profile that is very friendly to both seafood aficionados and non-fish eaters alike.
Buying Tips: It is an incredibly versatile fish like Salmon or Trout. Char fillets range from deep orange to pale pink but color does not indicate quality or flavor. Char comes mostly from northern Canada where it is farmed and caught wild, however Ontario and Manitoba do farm Char as well. The water temperature must remain very cold to maintain quality. The Yukon boasts they produce some of the best Arctic Char in the world.
Recommended Preparation: You can substitute arctic char for salmon in almost any recipe, and vice versa. Like salmon, this fish lends itself to most any cooking method. A 4 1/2-ounce serving of arctic char has 234 calories and 10.1 grams of fat.