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Fresh Columbia River Sturgeon

One of the joys of living on the edge of the continent is the proximity to fresh fish, although it's not necessarily as easy to find it as it should be. I drive along the Columbia River and the edge of the Pacific Ocean, past some of the best fish in the country, to grocery stores that have dyed farmed Atlantic salmon and indistinguishable frozen fillets of something whitish from some other country in the fish case. Bleech!

I have never understood why anyone would bother with that, so, in keeping with the spirit of the Eat Local challenge, I'll be eating local fish for the next several months courtesy of one noble sturgeon that died so I could savor him. With a side of basamati.

One of my neighbors is a professional fisher and we just had the first of several 12 hour mini-seasons for Columbia River sturgeon. Luckily for me, his first day out was successful and I was the lucky recipient of a 42 pound, downright prehistoric looking fish. Seriously, have you seen a sturgeon? They have these little scaly protrusions down their spine and sides and look like they might have skipped a step on the evolutionary path.

The fish came out of the water about 4 hours before I went down to watch it being butchered, and a couple of hours after that it was reduced to 19 pounds of fillets and over 5 pounds of random chunks (and a head) for stock, all snugly packed in my freezer; plus snacks for a very happy pair of cats. Everything happened within 10 miles of my house, which is about as local as it gets. And one more thing, it was two bucks a pound. Two dollars! Last time I saw sturgeon in the store it was closer to fifteen.

Now for the real question: what to do with all this bounty. My favorite sturgeon recipe cooks the fish in a melt-in-your-mouth ragout of leeks sauteed in butter, diced tart apple, and lovage with its lovely celery flavor is something I was lucky enough to eat at the Herbfarm, and it's in The Herbfarm Cookbook. And while I could eat that for twenty pounds worth of sturgeon fillets, there must be other options so that everyone else doesn't get bored.

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