Arctic Charr is not a trout, not a Salmon, and not a Steelhead but has characteristics of all three fish.  Charr splits off the family tree of salmonidae into it’s own unique species made up of Lake trout, Brook trout, Bull trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic Charr.  The Arctic Charr was selected by Aquanor Marketing, Inc out of Boston as a perfect fish for distribution into the U.S.  It has a similar meaty texture to salmon with the lighter, delicate, and buttery flavor of trout.  Arctic Charr is a familiar flavor with a high concentration of fat making it an excellent sushi fish as well.  It was first brought to the United States by Aquanor in 1990 and continues to grow in popularity not only because of its excellent and versatile table fare, but also due to the incredibly sustainable manner in which it is farmed.

Aquanor Arctic Char is farm raised in closed contained aquaculture in Iceland. 
There are two spellings for Artic Charr, or Arctic Char, the double rr refers to the saltwater raised fish, and one r refers to freshwater farmed. The water that feeds Aquanor Arctic Charr is a combination of fresh spring water and ocean saltwater that is filtered and recycled back thru the farm.  The combination of fresh and saltwater is called brackish water. It’s is possible for arctic char to survive salinity because of their native ability to migrate from the ocean into river systems.  Each tank receives enough water to drain and refill 4 times per day.  This gives the fish plenty of fresh, cold, oxygen rich water with steady current to live a high energy and active life.  The Artic Charr put on fat reserves to withstand the cold waters of Iceland.  This leads to the marbled flesh that both culinary and sushi chefs enjoy!

The feed is unique and contains a natural microorganism called paracoccus that gives the char its red flesh.  The paracoccus microorganism is fermented, concentrated, and dried to produce the product Panaferd-AX.  A more common substitute found in farmed salmon, steelhead, or red trout is an engineered synthetic called astaxanthin.  Both are healthy for human consumption, but Panaferd is an organic feed more similar to shrimp and krill that wild Arctic Char eat.

Japango Sushi

If you have yet to discover Arctic Charr, it’s time to give this excellent fish a try!  Arctic Charr are available Whole in a 2-6# average size or PBO fillet.  Arctic Charr do not have scales! Many chef’s enjoying making the skin extra crispy (or blackened) by cooking the fish skin side down in a hot pan with oil for 5 minutes, then flipping for a quick finish.  Sushi chefs offer Artic Charr as a sustainable alternative to the same old sushi.

Give Aquanor Arctic Charr a try on your next menu change or retail special!

​Chad Pettrone
Sustainability Directo​r​