Arctic Char

Species Information

Arctic char is both a freshwater and saltwater fish native to Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters. No other freshwater fish is found as far north. Arctic char is closely related to both salmon and trout and has many characteristics of both. Individual char fish can weigh 20 lb or more with record sized fish having been taken by angling in Northern Canada. Although Artic char is fished both commercially and by recreational fishermen, most Arctic char sold in the U.S. is farmed.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium "Seafood Watch" program has recently added farmed Arctic char as an environmentally sustainable Best Choice for consumers, stating: "Arctic char use only a moderate amount of marine resources for feed. In addition, Arctic char are farmed in land-based, closed systems that minimize the risk of escape into the wild.”

Cooking & Handling

Refrigerate arctic char in a perforated pan over another pan to catch the drips. Top with crushed ice for up to 2 days after purchase.

Char’s skin becomes think and leathery after cooking, so it’s best to remove it before serving.

Char is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote good cardiovascular health. It is low in Sodium and a good source of Protein.

Flavors that work well with arctic char are basil, butter, chervil, chives, cream, curry, curry leaf, ginger, lemon, mushroom, parsley, rosemary, sesame, shallot, tarragon, white wine, wild lime.

Cooking Methods

Bake, Broil, Grill, Poach, Sauté, Smoke

Global Supply

Canada, Iceland, Norway, Greenland

Seasonal Availability

Fresh and frozen available year-round. Wild char is best when harvested in early fall.

Did You Know?

Arctic char is sold as whole dressed fish or steak, and smoked or canned. It is known as iwana when prepared for sushi.

This member of the salmon family is an environmentally friendly alternative to farmed salmon.

Char are mostly raised in tanks and raceways onshore, unlike salmon which are generally raised in open net pens in coastal waters.

Wild arctic char can only live 500 miles south of the North Pole.

Scientific Name

Salvelinus alpinus

Market Name

Char

Common Names

arctic char, alpine trout, alpine char, sea trout

Substitutions

salmon, trout

Raw Characteristics

  • light colored spots on a dark brownish or olive cast; sides are lighter, fading to a pale belly
  • overall color may be brown, yellow, gold, orange, or red
  • bright red to pale pink meat
  • market weight 2-5 lbs

Cooked Characteristics

  • sweet, mild, rich flavor
  • bright red to pale pink meat
  • fine, moist flakes
  • moderately firm texture
  • high fat content, keeps fish moist

Pronunciations

French: omble chevalier
German: saibling
Italian: salmerino alpino
Japanese: iwana
Spanish: salvelino