Author Topic: Smoked Sturgeon  (Read 3968 times)

Offline piratey

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Smoked Sturgeon
« on: March 23, 2015, 05:12:00 PM »
I haven't seen a real detailed post about smoking sturgeon, so I put a little extra effort into this post, hoping it helps someone else down the line, like I've learned from the posts of others.  Special thanks to my buddy for the sturgeon and to forum member dreys50 who gave me some advice when I was gathering information about smoking this sturgeon.


Got a phone call from a friend of mine who had caught a sturgeon during his fishing trip that morning.  He knew I had recently bought a smoker and offered to give me some of the fish to try to smoke.  I brought him lunch when I came to pick it up. 

Here's the sturgeon at home.  He gave it to me vacuum sealed.

He had somewhat cleaned it, but there were a few spots where there was still blood left, and he warned me that I need to clean it well.  Sturgeon is different from salmon.  It is really meaty, with no bones.  The spine is cartilage and there are no bones anywhere else.  It reminds me of turkey, very little fat in it, but the red parts have blood and the yellow parts are where it was cut too close to the skin, and it ends up really fishy in those areas.  I had to cut off the red parts and the yellow parts.  Used a sharp small knife and it wasn't too bad.

I did a lot of reading online and people did different cures and brines.  I ended up doing a simple dry cure of 2 parts salt to 1 part sugar.  I mixed up as much of this as I needed, and added a tablespoon of onion powder and garlic powder.  I cleaned the first two pieces and covered it in the dry cure.

I cleaned the second two pieces and put them on top of the first two, also covered with the dry cure mixture.  The bottom two pieces were already letting out water as the salt went to work.

I covered the pieces with a plate to weigh it down a bit and I let the fish cure for about 30 hours in the refrigerator.

After the 30 hours, I took the fish out and cut off a small piece and cooked it on the stove.  It was salty.  I like salty food but this was way too salty.  I started questioning my choice of a 2 part salt to 1 part sugar mixture.  I remembered that some people, usually when making lox, freshen their fish by soaking it in water, for up to a half hour.  I grabbed a few bowls and filled them with water and put the fish in.  I moved them around every few minutes, and hoped for the best.

After a half hour, I took the fish out, fried a second small piece and it seemed a little less salty, but still very salty.  I was still worried about it being way to salty, but I didn't know what else to do but proceed.  I didn't want to risk leaving the fish to freshen for longer since I didn't want it waterlogged.  I got my Bradley rack, set it on top of a couple of cups to give more space for air to move around them, and set a fan over it.  A pellicle formed after about 2 hours.

It was in the low 70s.  I turned on the smoke generator and preheated the tower to about 100 degrees before putting the fish in. 

After letting the fish dry for an hour in the smoker, I upped the temperature to 120 and loaded alder bsiquettes.

I wanted to try one piece with maple syrup glaze (the real stuff), so I basted it every hour while smoking. I did 1 hour at 120, 3 hours at 140, then 2 hours at 160 and 2 hours at 170.  I applied 3 hours of alder smoke, and cooked to an IT of 145.  It took about 8 hours total.  In the picture below, you can see the piece on the top left, that was maple glazed.

Here's a shot with the skin sliced off.

I tried the piece that I sliced off and it was still salty, but not as bad as it was before cooking.  It was bearable, since I like salty food.  Wife said it was too salty for her.  However, after letting the fish sit in the refrigerator overnight, we had some for breakfast and the saltiness had decreased considerably.  After the fish rested overnight, we both loved it.  We had guests over the next day and shared the piece that we had started with them and the parents and kids all loved it.  Good thing we had hidden the other three pieces for ourselves.  I still haven't tried the maple glazed piece, but I'll add a comment later once we get around to it.  We'll be giving a piece to my parents tonight as well.

The sturgeon ended up being delicious, which was a huge surprise to me, since I was expecting it to be salty after trying the two small pieces before smoking the fish.  The meat has very little fat in it, and no bones, so it is completely different than salmon.  The texture is like deli-style turkey meat, but a little more tender. We loved it, and if I can get more sturgeon, I'll be smoking it.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 08:57:01 AM by piratey »

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: Smoked Sturgeon
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2015, 05:38:49 PM »
Great post Piratey!  8)

I've never tried or tasted sturgeon before.

Thanks for sharing!


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Offline watchdog56

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Re: Smoked Sturgeon
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2015, 05:26:30 AM »
Thanks for the info.

Offline iceman

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Re: Smoked Sturgeon
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2015, 08:54:22 AM »
Great post pirate. That sure looks tasty.  :)