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New and Healthy: Arctic Char

By Paige Brady, January 7, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Paige Brady
Some people make very specific New Year’s resolutions. Not me. I’m more the type who knows that I want to improve things about my life but I leave it kind of open and general – who knows what could come up! Yet, after indulging in too many wonderful treats over the holidays, I definitely feel a need to focus on getting back to eating sane, healthy foods. So, I was thrilled when I heard about a tasty fish we are featuring in January: Arctic Char. It’s fun to try something new and even better when it’s a flavorful fish filled with healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids but low in methylmercury.  I have not tried Arctic char yet but plan to get some on my next shopping trip. Here’s how good it sounds:
Arctic char is light, moist and firm in texture. With its subtle flavor and versatility, it serves as an excellent salmon or trout substitute in seafood dishes for beginner palates, kid-friendly meals, or for at-home chefs who simply prefer a less intensely flavored fish. Delicious sautéed, baked, broiled or grilled, Arctic char lends itself to a variety of seasonings — from herbed butter to spicy to fresh-squeezed citrus.
Tastes good and simple to prepare. Check. But that’s not all. Our Arctic char is sustainably raised and meets our rigorous Quality Standards for Aquaculture.
Whole Foods Market’s Arctic char is raised in land-based tanks of ice cold, crystal-clear water that is filtered through centuries-old lava rock by the Samherji cooperative of fish farmers in Iceland. This co-op raises healthy, earth-friendly Arctic char without the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, or land-animal byproducts in feed. This means that our shoppers are enjoying not only the best tasting fish, but also some of the purest Arctic char on the market.
Carrie Brownstein, our Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator, traveled to Iceland to check out the Arctic char farms and reports the "land-based tanks offer excellent water quality control and extra protection against farmed fish escaping into the wild. And they also protect the char from predators." She was also quite taken with the “breathtaking Icelandic landscape.” Tune in tomorrow to read Carrie’s account of the farms and see more of her amazing pictures. So, I’m going to try Arctic char this weekend and I’ll let you know how it turns out. Here are some great recipes for Arctic Char if you want some ideas. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Category: Seafood




Andrew Walker says ...
Yes! I had it in California, baked in a white bean and squash stew... came in a little clay pot, in a white wine fish stock. It was lovely, definitely in the salmon / trout zone but less rich and quite a light texture. I think it had a little fresh oregano and some fennel in there too. I'd recommend it. They do something similar in the West of Scotland.
01/09/2009 12:12:13 PM CST
paig292 says ...
Reporting back as promised. I cooked Arctic Char for my family last night and they liked it. It was super simple -- I just seasoned lightly with lemon juice, tamari and olive oil. We have salmon quite a bit and I prepared the Arctic Char just like salmon and it turned out perfectly. Since we were having a record-breaking 80 degree day here in Austin yesterday, I cooked it on my gas grill. I place the fillets on an old cookie sheet pan, season and then place the pan on top of the grill grates with the temperature around medium. Cook for about 10 minutes -- no need to turn the fish. You can cook it this way in the oven too, but it's a bit of a mess with the splattering. My husband liked the Arctic Char a lot...said it was better than salmon. (It actually looks very much like salmon -- just a bit lighter in color.) My 10-year-old daughter said that salmon is still her favorite fish, but she liked the Arctic Char. I liked it too! It's an oily fish just like farmed salmon. That makes it very easy to cook but I would advise to make sure you remove any fatty pieces on the fillets. Enjoy!
01/10/2009 3:01:41 PM CST
Barry Hirsch says ...
Another Whole Foods Market Team Member here, reporting back on adventures with Char. I decided to try one of our recipes -- http://wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipeId=2408 -- a very simple pan-sauteed Arctic Char with Tomato-Olive topping. I was cooking for one and this recipe seemed simple, healthy, affordable and fast. When I got to my local store I discovered a delicious roasted red pepper pesto on the antipasti bar. So I swapped out the roasted tomatoes for the pesto, and then chopped up some green olives to mix into the pesto. I was very pleased with the result. The char was moist and flaky, and its mildness allowed the pesto and olives to shine. A little steamed brocollini with roasted garlic and parm on the side and I had a healthy, simple meal in less than 30 minutes. Other adventures out there?
01/12/2009 10:42:12 AM CST
Andrew Violette says ...
Bought this fish after reading about it on this blog. I applied about a tablespoon of fish rub my parents got me from Williams-Sonoma for Christmas, some fresh thyme, and some lemon wedges. I cooked it on my grill (surrounded by about a foot of snow) on high on a cedar plank for about 10 minutes. It tasted excellent. Even my kids ate it all up and they normally scoff at Salmon.
01/13/2009 7:43:02 AM CST
Helen says ...
I bought some Arctic Char from Whole Foods for the first time this week and it was divine. I broiled it with some high quality olive oil and a bit of pepper. I then cut up some grape tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper. I drizzled the oil I used to cook the fish over the tomatoes, and the flavors went very well together. I brought some to work today, and just had it. Yum!
01/14/2009 3:04:10 PM CST
CL says ...
I sampled this fish for the first time while shopping at Whole Foods and was instantly sold. It has a much lighter flavor than salmon; while I love salmon, arctic char does not have the "overpowering" taste that comes with some salmon. It is flakier and more moist. I brushed it with a butter and herbes de provence mix and baked it. This fish would be outstanding cooked on cedar planks.
01/18/2009 9:31:52 PM CST
Natalie Totire says ...
The first time I tried artic char, it reminded me of salmon. I prepared it and cooked it the way I did with the salmon, and the taste was slightly milder. What amazed me the most is that it lifted my mood up 100%. Since then I have been very curious about the omega-3 content compared to other fish, including salmon. I consider this fish a natural antidepressant.
01/12/2012 9:23:20 PM CST
rina says ...
Do you have Arctic Char in all your Whole Foods stores? I am close to the one in Oakland on Harrison Street..Thanks....
08/17/2012 6:38:58 PM CDT
nikki.newman says ...
@RINA - Our products are different at each store location so you'll want to check with your local store. You can find their contact information at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.
08/20/2012 9:50:22 AM CDT
Eric V. Muth says ...
We used to get Arctic Char at our closest store, but have not had any luck over the last couple of years. Any ideas if it will become a regular item again? Please advise, Eric V. Muth (Birmingham is our nearest store)
11/03/2013 7:28:35 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@ERIC - The seafood team members at the Birmingham location would be the best to answer this. Our vendors differ between stores and they can let you know if this is something they can typically get in stock.
11/04/2013 3:25:35 PM CST
Ceiteg says ...
Tried to find arctic char in Whole Foods here in N Scottsdale (well after TJ's stopped carrying it), got incoherent teenage-like response that they do not carry it because of some colour-coded label. The response was supplemented with a typical for environmentalists long, incompetent eco- lecture. Well, no luck with finding fish that day but I have discovered a meaning of PC in The Fish World: Just like humans fishes have to answer a dozen of questions about your origins, race and colour and then receive a 'government approved' label. It is a miracle how could possibly that fish survive for millions of years without government classification and rating????
01/09/2014 12:02:59 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CEITEG - Actually the team member was correct. We take seafood sustainability extremely serious. We will not sell any red-rated seafood as rated by the Marine Stewardship Council and other third parties. You can read more at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/seafood-sustainability-basics.
01/09/2014 2:34:46 PM CST
Adele says ...
Arctic Char is a wonderful fish that is light, moist, and delicate in taste. Once you have it, you will become addicted as I have and my german shepherd has. There are many ways to prepare it, baked, broiled or grilled. I do it simply with a light rub of extra virgin olive oil, squeeze a lime or lemon, and grind a light coating of peppercorns. Very yummy.
08/01/2014 4:31:54 PM CDT
Marek Mroczka says ...
Which store in Chicago land carry arctic char?
12/22/2014 3:53:38 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MAREK - Our availability of items will differ between stores, even the locations within the city of Chicago. I would suggest calling the store directly that you plan to shop with to see if they have Arctic Char in stock.
12/22/2014 5:19:50 PM CST