Updated: Aug 3, 2021
(Total prep time: 15-minutes / total cook time: 20-minutes)
As one of the largest freshwater fish in North America, sturgeon also grow to be the oldest with males averaging between 50-60 years and females known to live as long as 150 years. Sturgeon meat has a different texture than most and closely identifies to more of a "steak" substance than the traditional flaky meat of most freshwater fish. A close comparison to texture would be that of swordfish or mahi mahi. The most common preparation method for sturgeon consumption is smoking and serving as a hors d'oeuvre, but we have other plans in mind when we get our hands on the rare sturgeon steak - we pan-sear and we love it!
There is one major consideration to bear in mind when preparing sturgeon steaks for dinner consumption - age. The older the fish the more fat it acquires and the more fat it builds the "fishier" the taste. To eliminate that "fishy" flavor try these two simple tricks, they're easy and they work!
INGREDIENTS (serves 4 adults)
4-8 oz. center cut filets of Lake Sturgeon
2 tbsp Butter or Cooking Oil
1 tbsp fine ground sea salt (Kosher will also do)
1 tbsp fine or medium course ground black pepper
1 tsp of Garlic Powder
The only things that make fish taste "fishy" is fat and the mud line (aka mud vein). To eliminate these culprits from your sturgeon steaks remove the mud line (use the salmon filet illustration shown below). Once removed, discard.
Next, soak your sturgeon steaks in a saltwater brine for 24-hours. Simply fill a large glass dish with water and add 1/4 cup of salt for 1/4 gallon of water (use the simple rule of 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water). Cover and let stand in the brine refrigerated for up to 24-hours.
We prefer a cast iron skillet for this method, but any conventional non-stick pan will do. Pre-heat your pan to medium-low heat and add butter (or oil) to coat the bottom of the pan - this is your ticket to getting that perfect golden sear.
Once the pan is heated and the butter (or oil) is hot place the sturgeon filets presentation side down, first. The trick to this method is not cooking the entire filet on the open range, but finishing off in the oven so sear the presentation side down until you achieve a golden color and then flip and place your oven-safe skillet in the oven to finish off.
Sturgeon is easy to over-cook and hard to undercook. Like shrimp, if the meat is opaque it is done. If you cook for too long the meat will develop a rubbery texture and your guests will give you half-smirks to make you feel good for cooking, but the other half of their expression tells the true story that will make you gulp. Once you pull the pan from the oven let stand while you prep the plate. We used a leak and potato puree centered on the plate and then placed the filet over the top of it. We paired the meat with oven roasted halved brussel sprouts.