Choosing Char



A close relative of both trout and salmon, Char is being seen with more frequency on U.S. sushi menus lately as a more sustainable alternative to Tuna.

A cold water fish that inhabits both fresh and saltwater areas of the far north, Char is occasionally wild-caught, but largely sourced from Icelandic or Canadian aquaculture which according to the Environmental Defense Fund, is considered sustainable.

Known as Iwana in Japanese, the fish sports a delicate red flesh with a firm texture that makes it a toothsome alternative to both tuna and salmon.

As with any fish, especially the carnivorous varieties, its always wise to keep in mind that the color of fish flesh can vary considerably depending on whether it was farmed or wild. With Char there are even noticeable differences farm to farm. Noting the color of fish is essential. deep red flesh indicates how vigorous the fish was during its lifetime and thus is an indication of its overall health.

To fully enjoy both the delicacy in flavor and wonderfully silky texture of this fish, cook it simply, with the skin well-crisped. This can be achieved by searing the Char skin-side down first for five or six minutes, then giving it a flip and quick sear on the flesh-side for just a minute before serving beside a steaming baked potato, a floret of broccoli, and the following yogurt-dill dressing:

Mix ( or blend for finesse): 1 cup of rich Greek-style yogurt, 1/4 cup of minced fresh dill, a splash of good olive oil, the juice of a small lemon, a dash of sea salt, a tablespoon of honey, a pinch of white pepper, and a small lobe of garlic smashed and minced.