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sturgeon

Pronunciation: [STER-juhn]

A large migratory fish known for its delicious flesh, excellent roe (the true caviar) and isinglass. This prized fish was so favored by England's King Edward II that he gave it royal status, which meant that all sturgeon caught had to be offered to the king. Sturgeon are anadromous, meaning that they migrate from their saltwater habitat to spawn in fresh water. Their average weight is 60 pounds but gargantuan specimens can reach over 3,000 pounds. The sturgeon's long, thin body is pale gray and has large scales. Its rich, high-fat flesh has a fresh, delicate flavor and is so firm that it's almost meatlike. Sturgeon are fished in the Black and Caspian Seas and in the United States, mainly in the Pacific Northwest and along the Southern Atlantic. The best U.S. variety is the white sturgeon, and the smaller specimens are considered the best eating. Fresh sturgeon comes whole (up to about 8 pounds), in steaks or in chunks. It can be braised, grilled, broiled, sautéed or baked. The supply of this fish in its fresh form, however, is limited and most of that caught in U.S. waters is smoked. Frozen and canned (pickled or smoked) forms are also available. See also fish.