Arctic Char - Spotlight Blog image by Get Maine Lobster

What Is Arctic Char and Why Is It So Awesome?

"This was my first experience with Arctic Char, and WOW...AMAZING! Absolutely tasted like I caught it myself that morning!"--Paco, Colorado

The Arctic Char may not yet be an American seafood staple, but its global popularity has taken hold. Char is mostly known among fishermen as a wild caught recreational catch, pole-caught in lakes and rivers of northern climates, such as the northern US and Canada.

But as its culinary merits found its way into restaurants around the world, commercial demand surged and today it is being sustainably sea-raised in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and has found its way into more and more American kitchens. We are thrilled to source this fish fresh, imported directly into our home port of Portland, Maine.

The Arctic char is a salmonid - the same family as trout and salmon. Like the trout and salmon, it can live in both fresh and ocean waters. For those who find salmon a bit too strong in flavor - and trout a bit too mild - the Arctic Char is a fish not to be missed. While salmon is perhaps the most popular seafood item on menus across the U.S., some may find it too powerful in taste.

Fans of trout may be frustrated as it  generally is not commercially available here, and is harder to find in both markets and restaurants. Char fills this gap: its distinct flavor is milder than salmon and a little more robust than trout. It is a perfect medium between the two.

Char can be prepared as you would trout: pan fried, grilled, baked, or even poached. It's distinct yet mild flavor is unique, yet its firmer texture offers a flake that is finer than either salmon or trout. It's healthy fat content lends itself to keeping it nice and moist no matter how you prepare it. Fillets of char are generally pale pink and are a year-round selection. Because of responsible harvesting methods, char are a Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch “Best Choice” seafood as well. The Arctic Char is a perfect fish selection for those who enjoy fresh finfish but not an overpowering taste.

Tips for Caring for Arctic Char and Fresh Fish:

Keep your Fresh fish exposed to unsafe temperatures for as short a time as possible. It should be placed in a plastic bag to prevent any leakage from contaminating any other foods. To maintain the quality of the fish, it needs to be kept at a temperature under 40°F in refrigerated as soon as possible. Do not allow the fish to set outside refrigeration for any length of time unless preparing to cook.

Storage: In Refrigerator for 2-4 days with gel packs in a soft zip up cooler bag is the best. Remove the fish from the packaging. Thoroughly rinse the fish in cold water. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Line a plate or pan with a double layer of paper towels and place the fish on the towels. Cover them tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the coldest part of the refrigerator, the top shelf in the back.Be sure the fish is tightly wrapped so that if there are any juices from the raw fish, they will not come in contact with any other food. In Freezer for up to 4 months if not cryovac sealed. If cryovac sealed, much longer.

Cooking: When cooking and serving fish, the meat must be handled properly to prevent contamination. Use a different platter and cooking utensils for cooked fish than what was used for the raw fish, unless they have been properly cleaned and dried after exposure to the raw fish.Be sure the raw fish does not come in contact with foods that have already been cooked or foods that do not require cooking before being consumed, such as raw vegetables and fruit.

If taking cooked fish to be served at another location, be sure to pack the fish so it maintains the proper temperatures. If you are keeping it hot, it should maintain at least a 140°F temperature and if it is cold, it must be kept at or below 40°F.