The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat char. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What char etiquette is

Arctic Char etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat char fish. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve char to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat char at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat arctic char

What you should know about char

Arctic char is a type of fish that live in cold waters in the northern hemisphere, including the Arctic and subarctic regions.

Arctic char has a distinctive appearance with dark spots on a silver or reddish background. They have a firm, meaty texture and a delicate, slightly sweet flavor that is similar to salmon. The flesh can range in color from pale pink to deep red depending on the subspecies and diet.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat char

1) How to store char

The ideal temperature to store Arctic char is between 0-4°C (32-39°F). In the pantry, it should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap and used within 1 day. In the fridge, it can be stored for up to 3 days if wrapped in plastic or stored in an airtight container. To freeze it, you can store it for up to 6 months, properly wrapped in freezer-safe plastic or aluminum foil.

Store sliced or cooked Arctic char in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic in the fridge and consume it within 2-3 days.

2) How to clean char

To clean Arctic char, rinse it in cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. There are some risks associated with cleaning fish, including the potential for contamination from bacteria or parasites, so it is important to use clean utensils and work surfaces. You can use a fish scaler or a knife to remove the scales, and a pair of scissors or a knife to gut the fish.

You can tell if Arctic char has turned bad if it has a sour or fishy smell, a slimy texture, or discolored flesh.

3) How to prepare & cook char

Arctic char can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare Arctic char for cooking, you can season it with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs and spices. You can use a variety of utensils and appliances to cook Arctic char. The most common ways to cook Arctic char include grilling, broiling, baking, pan-frying, or poaching.

Some popular dishes with Arctic char include smoked Arctic char, Arctic char sushi, and Arctic char fillets with lemon butter sauce.

Arctic char can be used in salads and sandwiches. It is suitable for guests on a vegan, keto, or paleo diet.

4) How to serve & present char

Arctic char is appropriate for a variety of occasions, including formal and informal meals, breakfast, brunch, and snack time. You can serve it as a main course, appetizer, or side dish.

You should serve Arctic char at room temperature or slightly chilled. Present it on a platter or individual plates, and serve it with a variety of utensils including forks, knives, and spoons.

You can present Arctic char with a variety of seasonings and accompaniments, including lemon, dill, parsley, capers, and garlic. You can serve it with a variety of sides, including roasted vegetables, grains, and salads.

5) Food and wine to pair char with

Arctic char pairs well with many vegetables and fruits, including beets, carrots, apples, and cranberries. It is best to avoid it with vegetables or fruits that are too acidic or overpowering.

Arctic char can pair well with certain types of cheese and dairy, including feta, goat cheese, and sour cream. Avoid strong or aged cheeses.

Arctic char pairs well with other fish, such as salmon and trout. It is uncommon to pair it with meat. Avoid pairing it with fish that have a strong or overpowering flavor.

When it comes to wine pairings with Arctic char, you can pair it with white wines like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling. Rosé and sparkling wine are also good options. Red wines are generally not a good option as they can overpower the delicate flavor of the fish. As for other beverages, beer, and spirits can also pair well with Arctic char, depending on the dish and preparation.

6) How to eat char

To eat Arctic char, you should use utensils that are appropriate for the preparation and presentation of the dish. The most polite way to eat Arctic char is with a fork and knife. It is not polite to eat it with your fingers. Discard the peel or any inedible parts.

Arctic Char etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common char etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Not properly cleaning Arctic char before cooking it.
  • 6/10. Overcooking Arctic char.
  • 6/10. Not using appropriate utensils and serving dishes.
  • 5/10. Overseasoning Arctic char and masking the delicate flavor of the fish.

Additional information for properly serving char

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The number of calories in Arctic char can vary depending on the preparation and serving size. On average, a 3-ounce serving of cooked Arctic char contains around 140-150 calories, while 100 grams of raw Arctic char contains approximately 129-134 calories.

How to buy the best char

A crucial factor in char etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Arctic char is generally available all year round, but the best season to buy it is from May to September, when it is in season and the quality is at its best.

Choose the best

Arctic char can be found in various forms in commerce, including fresh, frozen, smoked, and canned. Fresh and frozen Arctic char are the most common.

The most popular varieties of Arctic char in commerce include Alaskan, Icelandic, and Canadian. Among these, Icelandic Arctic char is often considered the most prized for its flavor and texture.

When buying Arctic char, it’s important to look for fish that is fresh, firm, and has a bright color. The fish should not have a strong fishy smell or be slimy. If buying from a fish market, ask the fishmonger when the fish was caught and where it was caught to ensure its freshness.

Alternatives to char

Some common alternatives to Arctic char include salmon, trout, and other types of char, such as Dolly Varden or brook trout. These fish have similar flavors and textures to Arctic char and can be used as substitutes in many dishes.