Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fish We Cook, Arctic Char and Greenling

The arctic char is a member of the salmon family that is found in cold arctic waters and in some deep mountain lakes in Canada and Europe. They have many similarities with their cousins the salmon and the trout. Like the salmon they are born in freshwater and then they migrate to the sea. They return to freshwater at maturity to breed and unlike the salmon, after breeding they do not die, but they return to the sea. There are also some that are landlocked and spend their entire life in fresh water. The market size for arctic char is usually between two and four pounds but they can reach as much as 30 pounds. They are fished commercially and by sportsmen but the majority on the market in the United States have been raised in fish farms throughout Canada and Iceland. Its meat has a firm texture which ranges from pink to dark red and is rich in flavor and somewhat high in fat. It has a taste similar to trout and salmon but many think it is not quite as rich as salmon. The best way to cook arctic char is to bake, broil, grill, and sauté or poach.
A family of fish from the Pacific Ocean, greenling is sometimes referred to as rock trout or tommy cod and are commercially known as sea-trout. Their average size is from 2 to 4 pounds and about 21 inches in length but the ling cod, which is a member of the greenling family, can grow to 5 feet and over 80 pounds. The ling cod and the kelp greenling are the two most popular on the market. They are found in shallow coastal waters of the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California and range in color from brown to blue or green with a lighter belly and have the ability to change color according to their surroundings. The males generally are brighter in color than the females. The greenling is a good eating fish and is of importance to the fishing industry. The kelp greenling is of importance to sport fishing but not as much for commercial fishing. They have a delicate flavor and are low in fat. Their very flaky, firm flesh is very mild in flavor and remains moist after cooking. The best way to prepare greenling is to sauté, pan fry, broil, deep fry, oven fry, poach or steam.

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