preparing arctic char for drying- Sassannguit - Greenland

Drying fish (Arctic Char) in Greenland

When it’s Arctic Char season in Greenland, you have to make the most of it! This invariably means that you end up with more fish than you can eat and fit in your freezer!

One of the options to deal with this excess is drying some of the fish for later use. This practice has long been followed in Greenland and we were able to see how it is traditionally done on our recent visit to Sassannguit (just South of Sisimiut) with West Greenland Wildlife.

The process of drying Arctic Char

  1. Clean and gut your fish.

Very picturesque filleting table at Sassannguit

  1. Remove the bones as you would if you were filleting, but leave the skin on and both “fillets” attached to the tail. Then, make cuts in the meat spaced about 2cm apart – being careful not to cut the skin. This allows the meat to dry without curling the whole fish upon itself.
preparing arctic char for drying- Sassannguit - Greenland
preparing arctic char for dring - Sassannguit - Greenland
  1. Hang over a frame with the meat facing out – preferably in a place that gets a lot of wind and sun. It depends a little on the conditions and exactly how dry you want your fish, but it takes about a week to be ready.

Frames like this are found all over Greenland and drying outside in the open air is the traditional practice.

We hung our fillets in the evening and, thanks to the bright sunny day and lots of wind, the outer layer of the fish was already quite hard the next morning.

“But what about the flies?” I hear you ask.

Well, that’s why it’s best if you can find a windy spot 😉 It helps to keep them away.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid the flies. This means that once the fish is hung, it is inspected a few times a day to remove the tiny white maggots that would otherwise spoil the meat. This is particularly important for freshly caught fish. Once the fillets begin to dry, the flies have a much harder time laying their eggs.

Trust me. It’s fine!

And delicious 😋

dried and smoked arctic char - Greenland

Smoked (top) and dried (bottom) Arctic Char. You can see how the meat shrinks as it dries. The next blog post explains how we smoked the fish.

Packed full of protein and subtle flavour, it is fantastic hiking food 🙂

Read more about Sassannguit

If this post has piqued your curiosity about our experiences in Sassannguit in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure:

Sassannguit is located just south of Greenland’s second-largest city, Sisimiut. If you are planning to visit Sisimiut – make sure you read my Ultimate Travel Guide to Sisimiut over at Guide to Greenland.

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences here on my blog or on my Greenland-specific blog at Guide to Greenland.

For more information about Greenland, the best websites are Guide to Greenland (which is also a one-stop-shop for many of the tours available), and Visit Greenland, the Government tourism site.

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