Sturgeon is one of the most primitive fish still surviving and present in the northern regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. It has retained much of the physical attributes of its ancient ancestors: a fine-grained hide, mostly cartilaginous skeleton, upturned tail fins, and a mouth on the underside of the head. Sturgeon are known for its immense size and their four barbels or feelers that dangle below the head that help them locate food. These large fish feed by sucking on bottom dwelling creatures such as crayfish, snails, larvae and small fishes.
Atlantic sturgeon are marine dwelling and ascend rivers to spawn while fresh water species, on the other hand are among the largest of inland fish found in landlocked waters like lakes. Russian or beluga sturgeon from the Caspian and Black seas can grow up to a length of length of 13 feet and weigh up to one ton–that’s 900 kilograms! The Pacific sturgeon can weigh in at over half a ton and reach a length of 12 foot. Other varieties include the smaller Pacific green sturgeon commonly found in coastal waters and rivers of Europe and North America. Culinary classification of this fish includes over 20 species closely related species and have distinct common names like sterlet, kaluga and beluga.
Aside from the fresh and frozen, smoked sturgeon is a popular delicacy in many countries. But above all else, it is the eggs of the specific sturgeon from selected waters that is prized source the best grade of caviar. Due to overharvesting, conservation measures have been enforces in the countries where the Caspian Sea borders–particularly Russia and Iran. Implementing catch quotas and developing aquaculture technology are attempts to increase the population of the critically threatened Russian sturgeon population.
So prized a fish should be prepared in a manner highlighting its freshness and delicate flavor. Sturgeon carpaccio is the epitome of an elegant appetizer that’s sure to impress the seafood gourmet. Though simple to prepare, care must be taken in assembling this dish due to the delicate components, particularly caviar and raw sturgeon fish. Only the freshest fish can be used otherwise the outcome will be far from ideal and can even cause upset stomach.
Oukha, a popular soup dish originating from Russia is traditionally prepared with a variety of fish like turbot, halibut, bream and perch. Sturgeon, cod and salmon can likewise be used for a more special dish. Regardless of the types of fish used, oukha is known for its use of very simple herbs and spices–parsley, bay leaf, chives and onions.