Introducing Darryl and Our Newest Menu Item: Arctic Char!

Sonia - March 3, 2021

In the heart of the dark winter season, bright new flavours are on the way!

Brought to us by snowmobile rather than boat, we are excited to introduce you to our newest fisherman, Darryl Siusangnark, and his delicious winter catch: wild-caught Arctic char from Naujaat, Nunavut!

This marks a big first for Skipper Otto: supporting a fishing family based out of BC. We’ve always dreamed that Skipper Otto would one day be able to support fishermen on other Canadian coasts and we’re thrilled that we are starting by supporting an Inuit fishing family on Canada’s inspiring Arctic coastline in Nunavut!

For years, we at Skipper Otto have been thinking of creative ways to support remote northern communities. Last summer, while reading an issue of Edible Toronto Magazine, Sonia discovered Lake to Plate, a partnership between a group of fishermen from Naujaat and Iqaluit-based social enterprise Project Nunavut. She was immediately struck by the similarities between the missions of our organization and theirs: to create economic opportunities for fishing families that allow them to persist in a traditional way of life in their communities. Last fall, when Sonia finally connected with Jeremy Davison of Project Nunavut, it was confirmed that we were natural allies with a shared mission. Sonia and Jeremy talked about how, just like in BC, fishermen in Nunavut face many economic risks and the industry-wide burden often falls on individuals instead of corporations.

Jeremy told us how Lake to Plate was started to empower fishermen from Naujaat to sell their wild-caught Arctic char to food businesses in southern Canada for fair prices and, thereby, make a sustainable income for themselves, their families, and their communities. While the Government of Canada issues commercial licenses to allow for small-scale, sustainable inshore fisheries for Arctic char across Nunavut, to date it has been difficult for fishermen in remote Arctic communities to connect and build relationships with potential partners in the South. However, through Lake to Plate, Darryl was able to connect with Skipper Otto and is now able to sell his catch to Skipper Otto members!

As you know, it’s always been Skipper Otto’s goal to build robust local food systems and protect traditional ways of life here on the West Coast by providing fair prices and sustainable income to fishermen. And Lake to Plate is doing the same in the North. By selling their fish to southern consumers at fair prices, Inuit fishermen are able to make a living doing what they love: using knowledge passed down from their elders to thrive on the land and provide for their families and communities.

And so, we give you, Darryl Siusangnark, Skipper Otto’s newest fisherman! Darryl is a professional harvester who makes his living off the land around Naujaat in Nunavut. Darryl is a key provider of fish for his community, supplying food for elders, food-insecure households, family, friends, community feasts, and commercial sales. He is also an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan! Darryl caught this first offering of char at a lake known as Itirjuk (pinned on the map below), which in Inuktitut means “The Way To Go In.” This area, called “Gore Bay” by the Canadian Government, is just under 100 kilometres southeast of Naujaat, Nunavut.

Darryl started fishing with his father in early childhood and has been fishing on his own since he was 18. The way he fishes is a bit different from our other fishermen. Along with other Inuit fishers in his community, Darryl braves frigid weather conditions and travels across the wintry tundra by snowmobile to catch fish from below the ice of frozen lakes using an auger and gillnets.

 

We’re thrilled to have Darryl join Skipper Otto and to share his tasty catch with you!

In case you don’t know much about Arctic char, we’d like to share what we’ve learned since we connected with Darryl. Arctic char is a fascinating species that can be lacustrine (living in lakes), riverine (living in rivers), or anadromous (living in both saltwater and freshwater). The Arctic char Darryl caught for us are anadromous and, every fall, migrate from the Arctic ocean up rivers into lakes where they spend the coldest months and where they are traditionally ice-fished under the dancing lights of the aqsarniit (Inuktitut for Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights). After being caught, Darryl’s Arctic char quickly freeze in the ambient temperature, which hovers around -40 during the depths of winter. As a result, when you get Arctic char from Darryl, it’s as fresh as the moment it was caught! Following a successful fishing trip, Darryl’s Arctic char travel by snowmobile to Naujaat and, from there, on existing passenger and supply flights to Winnipeg. From Winnipeg, they hitch a ride on transport trucks to Skipper Otto.

Arctic char is a close relative to both salmon and trout, and you’ll often hear it described as a cross between the two. Its appearance and fat content is similar to salmon, but, because of its environment, Arctic char has a flavour that is uniquely its own. Typically, Arctic char tastes milder than salmon but richer than trout.

Inuit enjoy comparing the flavours of Arctic char caught from different lakes! Arctic char from Lake Itirjuk is renowned for its delicate, subtle flavour, firm texture, and delicious hint of brininess. You can cook Arctic char the same as you would cook salmon.

Add some Arctic char to your next order, and let us know how you like it!

Sonia - March 3, 2021


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Introducing Darryl and Our Newest Menu Item: Arctic Char!

Sonia - March 3, 2021

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