Recipe for Sturgeon Astrakhan (courtesy of foodperestroika.com)
This is a decadent recipe to take a break from your local / seasonal / sustainable routine. Named after the city of Astrakhan in the Volga delta, (once) renowned for its rich sturgeon population, this dish is pretty simple: a thick piece of butter-poached, meaty sturgeon buried under spoonfuls of caviar.
This isn’t a cheap meal, and could easily cost $100 per serving in a restaurant. If you are fortunate enough to have sturgeon, you can make this at home. High quality (and affordable) paddlefish roe is available, and the cost per portion could be less than $30. Don't use other kinds of roe whose only resemblance to caviar is a darkish color. These substitutes will not taste the same.
This recipe uses the sous-vide method of cooking. If you aren’t familiar with this method of water bath cooking, don't be discouraged. It's a very easy recipe, and with a thermometer, it’s not difficult to maintain a pot of water at a fixed temperature for a few minutes by adding hot or cold water. The only special sous-vide gear you really need is a vacuum pump or sealer, and a few bags that go with it.
Finally, the dish can be served with a goat cheese accent, or green beans and butter. Use your imagination and try something different - you may strike gold on a new "perfect" combo of flavors.
Caviar sauce - 4 servings
4 oz caviar
3 oz sour cream
Take the caviar out of the fridge.
In a small saucepan, heat the sour cream to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm. Weigh 2 oz, and discard the rest.
Gently mix the caviar with the sour cream using a spoon, and reserve. The sauce should be served near room temperature. Don’t reheat it, or the roe will be ruined.
Butter-poached sturgeon - 4 servings
24 oz cleaned sturgeon fillet (skin and dark flesh removed), cut into 4 squares
6 oz butter
Season the sturgeon with salt on both sides, then seal in sous-vide pouches or vacuum bags with the butter. Cook in a water bath at 142 F for 16 minutes.
Take the fish out of the pouches, pat dry, and sear in clarified butter in a hot pan for a few seconds. Serve immediately, topped with the caviar sauce.
Feel free to pass this recipe along to anyone you know who may have some sturgeon laying around, or in case they get lucky on Black Lake this year. Halibut could easily be substituted here as well. Tight lines!