I wasn’t sure whether to post this one or not. I rather quickly decided to take photos, and didn’t have any kind of lighting setup, or any idea about a game-plan for photographing. Yep, it is true, now-a-days when I am going to photograph a recipe, I haul a light, bounce sheets, and sometimes my laptop into the kitchen, and make a few notes about what I want to shoot, and even do some rather bad drawings.
I only decided to break out the camera when Drake (our son) decided that pulling all of the spices out of the spice drawer would indeed be hysterical, and also rather helpful. It actually was pretty helpful, he managed to pull out almost all the spices I wanted to use on the sturgeon.. Good lad!
Danika and I really like to try and find ways to get Drake involved in the kitchen. A month ago, he helped make the dough (well, help might not be the right word..) for some rather great Naan bread, when we made a curry. He has been in the kitchen since, prodding stuff that I am about to cook, watching intently as I dart between stove and prep area. He is also rather helpful when I want the oven light or convection fan turned on, those two switches are the best thing in the kitchen ever, if you asked him, and if he could talk.
We were doing some shopping in Whole Foods in Bellevue this week, and they had some fresh wild sturgeon from the Columbia River at the fish counter. I would have preferred to go down to Mutual Fish, but it was late, and I couldn’t be bothered with the extra drive. So, I bought some sturgeon, and a few other things.
I don’t recall ever cooking sturgeon, but I do know that it is a rather meaty fish, that has a distinct earthy flavor. I also know the fish is bloody huge, and pig ugly, but that doesn’t really matter here.
So what to do with it. Not one for a hugely earthy flavor to my fish, I decided a spice rub would be in order. Normally I don’t spice rub my fish (occasionally tilapia actually..), but I thought what the heck, this could be a laugh. For Drake it certainly was.
The spice rub is a mix of a few spices – mostly Indian – green cardamon, cumin seed, corriander seed, clove, black pepper and a wee bit of salt. This all got ground up in a small (freebie) coffee grinder I have, that I reserve for grinding spices. It is important to note that grinding spices is now hilarious for Drake, but mostly down to the “spice grinding dance” that I now have to do every time I grind spice (because Drake enjoys it….). If you ever saw the old commercial for Guinness stout, with the bloke dancing around waiting for his pint to settle – you get the picture.
I couldn’t decide what to serve this sturgeon with, so I quickly part boiled and roasted some parsnips, and sauteed up some kale in butter, garlic and lemon juice.
The fish was really great – the rub wasn’t too strong, very flavorful, but it did detract somewhat from the unique taste of sturgeon.
NOTE: This is where I get on my high horse. If you can, don’t buy pre-ground spices unless you can help it. The only ground spice I used here was the cinnamon, and that was only because I was out of sticks.. You will get a much better flavor if you use whole seeds, and grind as much as you need to use for your dish. Ground spices, like coffee, loose their flavor quickly. Also when toasting the spices, make sure not to toast for too long, otherwise they will end up bitter.
Spice rubbed sturgeon, roasted parsnips, sauteed kale
3/4lb sturgeon fillet, cut into two pieces
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp corriander seed
2 green cardamon pods, seeds removed and kept, pods discarded
5 black peppercorns
pinch of sea salt
1 bunch of kale – sliced across leaf into 1/2″ slices
3 medium parsnips – peeled, and cut into quarters lengthwise
1 clove of garlic – crushed.
juice of 1/2 lemon (scant)
small handful of chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 450F
Start by getting a large pan of water on the boil. When boiling, bung in the parsnips, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until almost tender. Strain, and run under cold water to stop the cooking process if your oven isn’t up to temperature yet.
Whilst these are boiling away, put a medium sized roasting pan in the oven. When hot, remove and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the pan. I like to keep the pan hot over a burner as I do this. Toss in the parsnips when the butter is melted and fizzling. Add a small pinch of salt. Gently toss to coat. Pop this back in the oven for about 35 minutes, until the parsnips are golden and crispy.
Whilst the parnsips are roasting, make the spice rub. Put all the spices in a small saute pan (not the salt), and gently toast over a low heat. Put the spices into either a spice grinder, or small coffee grinder, add a pinch of salt, and grind until you get a fine powder. Do a little dance if you want to keep exactly to the recipe.. It helps the spices, honest.
Coat your sturgeon fillets in a little olive oil. Spread out your spice blend on a plate, and dredge the sturgeon, flesh side down, in the spices.
In a non-stick pan over a medium heat, add a little olive oil. Place in the sturgeon, spice side to the heat, when the oil is hot. Seer this for about 5 minutes – until the spices are golden. Flip the fish over, and put the fish in the pan into the oven. Turn the oven down to 350. You want to do this when the parsnips are just about done. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the sturgeon is cooked all the way through.
When the sturgeon has about 5 minutes to go, in a large saute pan melt a tablespoon of butter with a little olive oil. Add the clove of garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Now add in the kale, and a pinch of salt. Cook this until the kale has wilted, but is still reasonably firm to the bite. Squeeze in your lemon juice, and add the parsley.
To plate – put a neat pile of kale on a plate, and top with some parsnips. Pop the sturgeon fillet, spice side up on top.
The sweetness of the parsnip goes great with the slightly bitter kale leaf, with a kick being provided by a great spice rub.