Sevruga | Starry Sturgeon | Drakul | Usun Burun
In 2020, we couldn’t travel much. Yet, last year (finally, it is last!) happened to be pretty interesting for me in culinary adventures. For the first time in my life, I had a chance to cook and taste two sturgeon species — sevruga and sterlet. Both look unusual as a fish. Sevruga, though, looks very attractive to me. Its diamond-shaped scutes look like stars and thus another name — Starry Sturgeon. I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Both species from Sturgeon Aquafarms — sevruga and sterlet — are relatively lean. I tried multiple cooking methods to see which one is the best for my taste — grilling, frying, smoking, boiling, and baking/roasting. The last one was the most awarding. I call it baking/roasting because of the oven, but it is cooked in moist heat. The fish is covered all the time (more like in a dutch oven), and it cooks in its own juice and steam, which is the best for it. The vegetables are arranged around it, share the same cooking method, and absorb the same flavors. This cooking method unlocks the best in this fish in terms of flavor and texture.
The Store and The Fishery
Marky’s Gourmet Store
Marky’s Gourmet Store gives us the advantages of buying a whole fish that was fast-frozen fresh. It can be safely stored and transported to any distance without losing its nutritional and taste qualities. Getting the whole fish allows us to use it for all kinds of recipes, including coking and serving it Tsar-style. On the other side, there are a few steps we need to follow to prep it for cooking. And I’d be lying to say they are easy for beginners.
First, sevruga needs to be thoroughly rinsed with boiling hot water. It helps to remove the slime coat (wear protective gloves at all times!) and loosen up scutes. Sevruga is partially covered with five lateral rows of scutes (aka zhoochki | жУчки) — diamond-shaped “scales” that need to be removed with a knife. The right direction is from tail to head, away from your body.
Like other members of subclass Chondrostei, sevruga is unique among bony fishes because their skeletons are almost entirely cartilaginous. Inside the skeleton, there is a notochord (aka viziga | визига). Being a strong connective tissue, it contracts during cooking and needs to be removed to prevent any fish deformations. It’s done by removing just the notochord (tricky!) or by cutting out the whole skeleton (that’s what I do).
Marky’s sturgeon species come from Sturgeon Aquafarms (Bascom, Florida).
Sturgeon Aquafarms was founded in 2001 with the intent to protect and preserve endangered sturgeon species.
Why Sturgeon Aquafarms?
- Sturgeon Aquafarms is the only farm in the United States housing Beluga, Sevruga and Sterlet sturgeon.
- Sturgeon Aquafarms uses Floridan Aquifer water, the same water used as drinking water for Florida residents, to raise its fish.
- Sturgeon Aquafarms uses only natural feed, free of hormones, antibiotics and other pollutants, which ensures a high nutritional value and the highest quality meat and caviar.
- Sturgeon Aquafarms team includes past members of the U.N., CITES and scientists from local and foreign universities who assist us in our re-population and reproductive efforts.