Fish Story: Arctic Char

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There are lots of fishing camps in Nunavik, Quebec's arctic region, devoted to fly fishing for arctic char. There's even an annual arctic char fishing derby in Whale Cove, in case you want to try your luck. The highly prized freshwater game fish is a traditional food of the Inuit natives and its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be one reason the arctic residents have such healthy hearts. The Inuit sell a lot of the char and caribou eaten in upscale Quebec restaurants.

Arctic char is related to trout and salmon and has a mild flavor, but an extremely buttery texture. I like to season it with a fish rub and grill it. Then I chop up the leftovers with onion, celery, capers and mayo and make an arctic char salad out of it that tastes fabulous on toasted bagels for breakfast.

Whole Foods is currently promoting arctic char grown in land-based tanks in Iceland as part of their new aquaculture program. The company is assessing the environmental impact of various seafoods produced through aquaculture and directing their business toward the fish farms that are doing the best job. The Icelandic arctic char is going for around $12 a pound. I wonder if the Inuit have any char farming plans?

-Robb Walsh

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