Schoolhouse Journals March 2014
Arctic Char, Chimichurri Sauce, and Beef
By Chef Christopher Dobrowolski
Hi KIDS! Nice to see you on this almost Spring day. Not sure about where you are, but in Arizona it almost seems like it’s been spring since last fall. Sorry, that was just mean to say, especially if you are in the northeast area. Ok, enough of the bragging, let’s get down to some culinary ideas and a little tip for beef purchasing.
We are going to start out with a little food for thought and chat about what I think is one of the most well balanced fish, not only in flavor, but nutrients, and it can be sustainably fished. Arctic char is a cold-water fish in the family Salmonidae, native to Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters. It breeds in fresh water, and populations can be either landlocked or anadromous, migrating to the sea. No other freshwater fish is found as far north; it is, for instance, the only fish species in Lake Hazen on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. It is one of the rarest fish species in Britain, found only in deep, cold, glacial lakes. It is also common in the Alps, where it can be found in lakes up to an altitude of 8,500 feet above sea level, and in Iceland.
Arctic char is closely related to both salmon and lake trout, and has many characteristics of both. The fish is highly variable in color, depending on the time of year and the environmental conditions of the lake it lives in. Generally, whole market-sized fish are between 2 and 5 lb (0.91 and 2.27 kg). The flesh color can range from a bright red to a pale pink.
Fish in general are an excellent natural source of protein, vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish have an even higher concentration of omega-3 oils. American Heart Association recommends eating 2-3 servings of fish per week to ensure you ingest enough omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential means the body cannot synthesize it and we must eat certain foods, particularly cold water fish, to ensure our body gets this important component. The cold and clean waters of the North produce fish that have an increased amount of these important nutrients making them superior to fish from other parts of the world. Wild Arctic Char is one of the most nutritious fish products available on the market today.
Nutritional Information for Arctic Char (per 100g serving, raw)
- Energy – 154 Cal / 640 kJ
- Protein – 20 g
- Fat – 8.1 g
- Carbohydrate – 0
- Sodium – 51 mg
- Potassium – 551 mg
- Omega-3 – 6 g
Ok, now for something to go with your Char that is easy to make and so worth the time. Char is meant to be simply cooked (Salt & Pepper) grilled or pan sautéed. A lot of people make the mistake of cleaning out the bones and taking off the beautiful skin. With char I recommend that you do neither of these steps. Char bones literally melt back into the fish while cooking to add richness and nutritional value, as does the skin. Now you don’t have to eat the skin, but I do recommend leaving it on while you are cooking it. As for a sauce, here is a nice little recipe that we use at Schoolhouse.
Chimichurri Sauce (Kind of like Pesto)
Last but not least and the final tip for today’s lesson; it’s about purchasing beef or any red meat. This is something the grocery stores and meat packers won’t tell you, but I will. During the six week of lent beef is on average 30% less expensive. Now, knowing that information it is a perfect time to buy a big chunk of Ribeye, or whatever tickles your fancy, and dry age the heck out of it.
Thank you for reading and we will see you next month for another edge of your seat invigorating Schoolhouse lesson.
Christopher Dobrowolski/Schoolhouse Restaurant