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Arctic Char

Updated on October 22, 2014

The Arctic Char

The Arctic char is a member of the Salmonidae family which includes salmon and trout.

This species has one of the most northern ranges of all freshwater and saltwater fish.

Arctic char are found in both freshwater and saltwater in lakes and coastal waters of the northern hemisphere.

Char fillets are highly prized by chefs for their excellent flavor, color and high content of Omega 3 fish oil.

Iceland is the world's largest producer of farm raised Arctic char, with annual production around 3,000 tonnes.

Other names for this beautiful fish include iqaluk and tariungmiutaq. In some regions, its common name is spelled "charr".

Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus)

Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) are found in both freshwater and saltwater in Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters.

In addition to being found in the Canadian Arctic, char are found in Northern Europe. Populations also exist in deep lakes of Scotland and Ireland. In Scandinavia, char are common, and are fished extensively. The species is also found In Siberia, where it is known as goletst.

The Arctic char is closely related to both salmon and trout and has many characteristics of both. Char can attain weights of 20 pounds or more. Many of the largest fish have been landed in Northern Canada, where they are known as iqaluk or tariungmiutaq.

How to Cook Arctic Char

Arctic char is light, moist and firm in texture and serves as an excellent salmon or trout substitute. Char are highly prized for their excellent flavor and high content of Omega 3 fish oil.

Whole market sized fish are usually between 2 and 5 lb in weight. The flesh color of char varies from bright red to a pale pink. Both wild caught Arctic char and farm raised fish are available from fish markets and seafood retailers.

Canadian Red Trout
Canadian Red Trout

Canadian Red Trout

The Canadian red trout, also known as Quebec red trout is a landlocked form of Arctic char. Red trout are found in southern Quebec.

Arctic Char Recipes

Fish Chowder

2 lbs. arctic char

2 potatoes peeled cut into 3/4 inch cubes

1 small onion, sliced

6 strips bacon or salt pork

3 Tbsp. butter

2 cups scalded milk

salt and pepper to taste


Remove skin and fillets and cut off head and tail. Cut fish into 2 inch pieces and set aside.

Put head, tail, and backbone pieces into a stew pan, add 2 cups of cold water and bring slowly to boiling point; cook 5 minutes.

Cut bacon or salt pork into small pieces and fry out, add onion and fry 5 minutes. Strain fat into a large pan, add potatoes to fat, then add 2 cups boiling water and cook 5 minutes.

Add liquor drained from the bones, add fish, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Add milk, salt, pepper, and butter.

To thicken, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add 2 tablespoons flour, blending well. Gradually add 2 cups scalded milk.

Serve steaming hot with crackers.

Arctic Char - Dolly Varden Identification

The Arctic char is often confused with the Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma).

The two species can be distinguished by their color and shape:

The Dolly Varden’s tail fin is less forked with a thicker base and it usually has black in the mouth.

Arctic char have fewer light-colored spots, with the largest spots being bigger than the pupil.

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    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      Interesting lens, I had never heard of this fish, thanks for the info!