Posted on September 20th, 2010
Full Sturgeon Moon. The end of summer is bittersweet. It stirs the human soul. Out of nowhere the days are just a little shorter, the air is crisper and you can smell wood fire at night. This slight change of season makes some feel crestfallen, for others it is relieving. For me, it feels like the thorn from a pricker bush has impaled my tiny blackened heart.
Before I get mushy on you, let us forge ahead to one last Indian-summer poem about a sturgeon:
from The Song of Hiawatha
By the shore of Gitchie Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him through the sunshine,
Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.
Bright above him shown the heavens,
Level spread the lake before him;
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,
Sparkling, flashing in the sunshine;
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha
Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water,
And the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha.
Sturgeon as a species is older than YOU (wow) and older than the dinosaurs. As members of the most ancient actinopterygian fish family, these living fossils are over 200 million years old! When I call them living fossils it isn’t to be rude, it is because they have undergone very little morphological change during their time here on earth.
We sell wild sturgeon bullets from the lower Columbia River. In this region the sturgeon are not endangered. They are a by-catch of the local salmon fisheries. It is commonly said that white sturgeon meat resembles veal. At 10.75/lb they are de-plated and have an 80% meat yield ready for you to smoke, cure, sous vide, poach or roast for your people.
American Indians have the right to hunt and fish on their land, making them the only ones allowed to harvest the white sturgeon without STRICT regulation.
August is the month of the Full Sturgeon Moon according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The American Indian fishing tribes take credit for naming this moon because this is the month when sturgeon is most readily caught.
Two words for you: SEASONAL PRODUCT.
Trash to treasure: The Spotted Skate.
Do you remember the days when no one had anything nice to say about skate? Well, I do. They are the “bats of the sea.” They are trashy. They are not fun. They must be iced to perfection. They even pee out of their skin! The list goes on.
Despite all of this, they now proudly showcase on many of your plates.
You serve it with brown butter sauce, you lay it down next to braised red cabbage and some of you have the cojones to throw some capers on top! You are all amazing. You made skate cool.
Oh yes, and at 1.95/lb you can MAKE MONEY off each and every delicate wing, which is helpful. The point I am trying to make is this: We have learned to love skate. AND what does skate have in common with sturgeon and smooth shark? They are all cartilaginous species. I promise that what I am about to say is a once only. Please, do not get your knickers in a twist: Why hasn’t anyone ordered smooth shark from me yet?
Be a pioneer, be a trendsetter, be a cartilaginous fishmonger.