Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to Prepare Sturgeon

Sturgeon is a firm-fleshed white fish. To me, they taste similar to ca loc (Vietnamese snakehead fish). My mom likes to use sturgeon in cha ca (Vietnamese fish paste) because the meat is already firm so no worries about it turning mushy when it gets ground into a paste.

Day 4.2 Bonneville Hatchery - Cascade Locks - Oregon 4
Sturgeon at Bonneville Hatchery, Cascade Locks, Oregon.

They are very large fish and if you find any in the store, it would probably be already filleted. But, on the off-chance that you have an oldest aunt like I have, who gives you a huge chunk of sturgeon every time you come home, you'll probably want to know what to do with it.

The scutes, or bony plates, must be sliced off. The skin is also very thick and really isn't edible either. So slice off all of that as well.

How to Prepare Sturgeon 1

Discarded scutes and skin. Don't throw them away. If you have a garden, the fish parts make excellent fertilizer. I just bury it beside my roses, or if you garden in containers, even easier.

How to Prepare Sturgeon 2

Sturgeon don't have bones, just lots of thick cartilage. I cut the fish sideways into about 3- or 4-inch wide portions. You'll probably need a hammer to bang on the top of your cleaver in order to cut through the center cartilage.

Then turn the fish over sideways to slice off two clean fillets.

How to Prepare Sturgeon 3

Cut off excess blood or membrane parts until your fillet is clean.

How to Prepare Sturgeon 4

And there you have a nice sturgeon fillet, which you can use to make Ca Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Fish with Tomato Sauce) or any other dish of your choosing.

How to Prepare Sturgeon 5

As you can see from the top, counterclockwise, I have the discarded scutes and bones in the blue bowl in the back, destined for my roses. A nice fillet wrapped in plastic for the freezer for later. The bowl to its left holds the center cartilage sections with some sturgeon meat. That'll make excellent fish soup stock. And finally, a whole bunch of sturgeon meat that I cut into 1- by 2-inch pieces.

How to Prepare Sturgeon 6

Can you guess what recipe I'll be making with those sturgeon pieces?

Right after I finished preparing the sturgeon, youngest aunt called inviting me over for dinner. Homemade hu tieu (Vietnamese clear noodle soup with barbecued pork and shrimp). So I quickly marinated my fish and saved the cooking for the next day.

My sturgeon recipes:
Bun Nuoc Leo Soc Trang (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup in Savory Broth with Fish, Roast Pork, and Shrimp)
Cha Ca Thang Long (Vietnamese Hanoi-Style Turmeric Fish with Dill)

1 year ago today, tabbouleh cravings.
2 years ago today, Chinese hot and sour soup.


  1. holy bejeebus! I wouldn't know what to do with a huge chunk of sturgeon like that! Glad to know you have different recipes you can use it for. :)

  2. Diana,
    Seriously, the hunk was 8 inches in diameter and length? I've got several recipes for it. Just gotta get around to blogging them.

  3. good grief WC. I'm pretty sure I am never going to prepare sturgeon, but I realy liked the photos showing how. Can't you simply invite me for dinner??

  4. Tammy,
    Haha! As if you couldn't figure it out on your own. But some people really can't...

  5. Hmmm. I don't think I've ever eaten sturgeon! At least, that I know of...

  6. TS,
    It's pretty good. If you like firm-fleshed white fish anyway. Very meaty.

  7. Wow, thanks! We just got our hands on a sturgeon, a much smaller version of that, and had our hands full of issues how to prepare it, and this helped a bit. I think, the most burning issue was how to remove the skin - something we solved eventually with a pair of pliers!
    But now we understand why the guy who sold it to us earnestly wished us good luck with it!

  8. Rattus-Laborus,
    I just sliced off all the skin because it's not even tasty. No point trying to work with it. Those hard scales or whatever you call them are a pain to deal with though!

  9. Since the sturgeon is caltilagous fish, did it's flesh smells amoniac like shark flesh???

  10. Dentist vs chef,
    I don't know about smell but, I would say sturgeon is similar to shark/swordfish/stingray in terms of texture and flavor.


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