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Chars or charrs (lat.: Salvenius) belong to the family of salmonid fish. They have a long, slim body and flat head. Their shape is similar to that of trouts. Some species in this genus are even called trouts, such as the lake trout or the brook trout. Chars have a wide mouth and their tail is forked deeply. The colour of their back is dark olive green. Towards the belly it changes to orange or brown, especially during spawning. The body is speckled with many small light cream, red, yellow or brown spots. A lighter line runs across the sides of the body. Chars, like all other salmon fish, have a fat fin between their caudal and dorsal fins. The anal, pectoral and ventral fins have a white or cream coloured border.

The Arctic char is a fish that require high water quality. For optimal growth it needs cold, clean water rich in oxygen. It is native to cold arctic and sub-arctic lakes, alpine lakes and coastal waters. Arctic chars can be found in Northern Europe, especially on the British Isles, in the Alps (up to 2000 m), Scandinavia, Iceland and also in Russia. See main article: Arctic char.

The lake trout or lake char (lat.: Salvenius namaycush) is the American relative of the Arctic char. Native Americans call it Namaycush. Its original habitat is lakes in Canada, Labrador and New England. It has been successfully introduced to some European countries such as Sweden and Switzerland. In the Northwest of the United States the Dolly Varden trout (lat.: Salvenius malma) is a common subspecies.

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Preparation of chars

Chars are delicate fish with firm, salmon coloured meat. It is well suited for many different preparation methods, such as frying, boiling au bleu or smoking. Most Salmon or trout recipes can be prepared with char.

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