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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Omble Chevalier, Char: Fresh Water Char on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman


Artic Char.
Photograph courtesy of Gerard Foley. . 
Freshwater Char
Omble Chevalier, Omble Arctique - Fresh Water Char, Char, Artic Char, Charr.  Tasting somewhere between trout and salmon, to which they are related.  Char has a firm, but slightly flaky flesh with a white to pink color.  The color depends on the food that the fish has been eating.  When char is caught in one of France’s many clear water lakes, then restaurant menus will often identify the area or name the lake where this fish is caught. When Char is caught in rivers, an estuaries char the menu may note wild char.  The lakes are stocked so that professional fishermen and women and amateurs do not overfish. When a menu listing for char is without any special mention that usually indicates that the fish came from a freshwater fish farm. Large fish will be served as filets and small fish will be served whole.

Bringing in the catch.
Char, Freshwater Char on French Menus:
Omble Chevalier Sauvage Cuisiné au Beurre Mousseux aux Fines Herbes.  – A whole, wild, freshwater char caught in a river, cooked in foaming butter and flavored with the herbs from France’s favorite herb group called the Fine Herbs.

Fried Char stuffed with herbs. 
La Meunière d'Omble Chevalier et Ecrevisses de Camargue, Beurre au Thym. - A whole freshwater char fried in a butter sauce flavored with thyme; served together with freshwater crayfish from the Camargue National Park on France’s Mediterranean coast.
Filet d’Omble Chevalier des Cévennes Rôti au Beurre Noisette aux Girolles Poêlées – A  filet of freshwater char caught in one of the many beautiful lakes in the Cévennes National Park. The fish will have been roasted whole with a sauce beurre noisette and wild chanterelle girolle mushrooms. The fish will be fileted just before serving. (See the appendix Sauces: Sauce Beurre Noisette). The Cévennes National Park covers parts of two regions, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Rhône-Alpes.

A very large Freshwater Char.
   The Cevennes National Park has an English language website:

When the music stops.
I enjoyed a memorable meal with a magnificent Freshwater Char as the star in a restaurant on the banks of Lac Léman, (Lake Geneva), France. The setting, the restaurant, and the fish were magnificent. The fish was incredibly fresh as if it had been landed five minutes before.  It was served lightly fried in a Sauce Meunier …heaven.  I went back to the same restaurant a few years later; the taste was still so fresh in my mind that I could hardly wait for the fish to arrive.  Then disaster struck.  I was served a recently unfrozen trout filet! The disappointment was unimaginable, never will I return; bell, book and candle for that restaurant!  However, since then I have found other restaurants on the banks of Lac Leman, who sell the genuine article, perfectly cooked. Caveat Emptor: ask to see the fish before it is cooked.

 The Trout is above and the Freshwater Char is below

Freshwater char is not a local French fish.

 Most French citizens assume that char is a local freshwater fish; that is an error. Char, given the chance would spend much of their lives at sea, mostly many in Arctic waters. However, over the years, char has been released into European lakes and there they spend their whole lives. Others are raised in freshwater fish farms.
 Char in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - truita alpine), (Dutch -  riddervis )(German - saibling, Seesaibling),  (Italian – salmerino, salmerino alpino), (Spanish – troche alpina, salvelino), (Latin - Salvelinus alpinus alpinus)

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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright: 2010, 2015
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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