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Char at Sea Salt

I had a nice lunch at Sea Salt recently. It was the second time I had a fish called char, there, which is kind of like trout and salmon. I've never seen this fish in any store. Any idea where I can purchase fresh char to cook at home?

Thanks.

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  1. Next time you're at Sea Salt walk or drive to the nearby Tokyo Fish market. They have a wonderful selection of very high quality fish, and even if you don't find char you'll probably find something else at a good price that is very enticing.

    Tokyo Fish Market is on San Pablo within a mile of Sea Salt, perhaps as close as a block or two away.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SteveG

      Tokyo Fish Market is on San Pablo past Gilman Street, in Albany. It is about two miles north of Sea Salt, which is near Dwight Way in Berkeley.

    2. I've driven by Tokyo Fish dozens of times, often on the way back from spending a small fortune at Monterey Fish, without stopping. How are their prices? Do they carry primarily sashimi-suitable fish and cuts of fish?

      4 Replies
      1. re: dordogne

        Their fish is primarily sashimi grade, but the prices are comparable to normal fish at Andronico's, Whole Foods, Bryan's, etc. They do have a section that is not sashimi grade if memory serves but it is smaller.

        Of particular interest when I was there was a monkfish tail, which had perfectly fresh looking flesh peeking out at the end, and it was a good 1 foot long section of the end of the tail. Perfect for some types of soups. I also bought a selection of hamachi scraps for something like $6 a pound which I ate in the car. Tasty. The takeout sushi plate wasn't fantastic but it was more satisfying for a snack than the taco stands on that strip of the road if you're in a hurry.

        All that said, I've only stopped in once because I don't live in the East Bay so a more regular shopper should chime in with more details and correct me if I'm wildly off on the pricing.

        1. re: SteveG

          "I also bought a selection of hamachi scraps for something like $6 a pound which I ate in the car. Tasty."

          Love this! Do you keep ponzu sauce in the glove box?

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            No, but we bought some fresh yuzu, which was probably more expensive than the hamachi scraps. I think it was 4 or 5 bucks for 4 yuzu, which were a bit smaller than a lime. I have no reference for what yuzu should look like, but it was neat to try them as a raw ingredient.

            1. re: SteveG

              Once you've squeezed and scraped everything you can out of those pricey yuzu, then put one in a steamy bath tub with you for some aromatherapy.

      2. The char I know is usually called "Arctic Char." Do a web search for that and you will come up with plenty of info. Arctic char is a fish from the North Atlantic (caught off of eastern Canada, Iceland, Norway, etc.) and is relative of salmon/trout. I am not sure I have ever seen it for sale at the retail level in the SF Bay Area.

        1. I believe trout and salmon are chars, so you probably don't see it offered in markets because it is not descriptive enough.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Civil Bear

            This is not entirely true. It's in the same genus as brook trout and lake trout and it's pretty much always farm raised, but Pacific salmon and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus) and Atlantic salmon and brown trout (Salmo) are not char.

            1. re: pws

              Ah thanks. I seem to recall years ago fishing in Alaska and being told any salmon caught other than a king, silver, or coho was to be classified as a char for regulation purposes.

          2. Father in-law bought five cooked cracked crabs from Toyoko fish for New Years day feast, it was just awesome. Way better than live ones from the tanks at 99 ranch. It was probably pretty darn expensive, but well worth it.

            1. Thanks a lot everyone for all of the info on char and its origins, and the Tokyo Fish Market; I will definitely check out this place. I've driven by it thousands of times. . . Or maybe I'm just doomed to enjoy fish out only in restaurants? I sure hope there is a good salmon season ahead, though, which would satisfy that kind of craving, right now. A simple grilled salmon from my backyard grill, is so easy and so good! In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy local crab, pan fried petrale sole and ciappino from Tadich Grill, fish and chips and char from Sea Salt, and an occasional spicy bean fish fillet from China Vilage as my fish delights!

              1. Sturgeon is a tasty fish (a bit like swordfish or halibut) that is often caught locally and some times shows up on the menu at places like Tadich and Sam's Grill. I have seen it for sale in retail fish shops. It is worth trying if you have never done so.

                5 Replies
                1. re: DavidT

                  Most sturgeon you'll see is farmed.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    It is illegal to catch and sell sturgeon for commercial purposes which is why most is farmed. From my understanding, the native americans are excepted from this regulation which is why you may see some wild sturgeon from the Columbia River in certain stores. Bryan's has it on occasion and it is excellent. The wild sturgeon is far cleaner tasting than the farmed product. I think the fat content is also higher in the wild.

                    1. re: poulet_roti

                      Thanks for that information. I am under the impression that sturgeon in the wild are a very long-lived fish and can grow quite large in size. Do either of you know at what age and size a farmed sturgeon is "harvested" and where sturgeon farms are located?

                      1. re: DavidT

                        Farmed sturgeon are usually harvested at 2-4 years, 12-20 lbs. The sturgeon harvested for "meat" are usually males.

                        There are a few sturgeon farms in the Central Valley. One of them is at the Ferry Building selling caviar.

                        1. re: Alan408

                          I went to lunch at Tadich today and, sure enough, broiled sturgeon was on the menu as a special. Given our recent convervsation here, I felt obliged to order it. I did and it was pretty good. The portion was sizeable (8 to 10 oz.) and very tasty.