The Recorder – My Turn: Endangered Baby Sturgeon: A Short-nosed Connecticut River Delicacy and River Satire
Posted: 06/01/2021 16:48:08 PM
Feasting on the Connecticut River Baked Baby Shortnose Sturgeon is one of the rarest culinary treats. It is one of the few accessible to hunting enthusiasts and to the exceptional appeal of the palate. To participate in this rarity, one must be prepared to undertake the most careful and patient of foraging paths to the exposed and ephemeral presentation site of this endangered species. This culinary wonder is only available at the only documented natural spawning site of the federally threatened Connecticut River Shortnose Sturgeon, and is only accessible sporadically for a brief 2 month window. , from the end of April to the end of June.
The “bakery,” as it’s called, is an artificial oven – a parched field of exposed river pebbles, approximately the size of Fenway’s infield, 3.2 miles downstream from Turners Falls Dam. These are basically the adjacent and downstream dried up shoals of a single pool in Connecticut, just below an ancient natural escarpment in the river known as the Rock Dam. This late-spring outdoor micro-feast cooks in the exposed river bed itself, under the uniquely unique conditions created by upstream dam operators by draining the banks of this critical spawning habitat. endangered sturgeon on the Great New England River.
It is here, under these conditions, that the spring ritual of drying out and cooking in the open air of the rare and freshly spawned young of this 100 million year old fish must be sought after for a unique and tiny dinner dish. It’s a delicacy that, similar to twice-cooked pork, can be enjoyed in a number of ways, including reconstituting both fertilized and unfertilized eggs, adding hard-to-obtain river water, and parboiling. Or, as an even more sassy sensation, tiny sturgeons can be sampled at an early almost microscopic stage in their life, known as the ELS sturgeon. The taste of the former, as you can imagine once the water is added, is akin to caviar. The latter, in turn, only offers the smallest bites of miniature short noses – which would taste like spicy chicken fingers, but “without any trace of that boring crunch.”
Anyone who dabbles in rare taste delicacies and deals with endangered species knows that the main reason creatures end up going extinct is the inability to protect habitat. And this is an exquisite example of a faltering species that is repeatedly left to its own culinary stew within the Massachusetts reach of the Connecticut backbone and the central artery of the SO Conte Connecticut River US Fish & Wildlife. Refuge. The hunt for the exotic taste doesn’t get much juicier than this – with all of the puzzle protection mandates still being ignored years after this haute cuisine menu should have been taken down under federal law and law enforcement mandates. endangered species under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this dam (FERC) operating license which expired in 2018. So long luck!
The baked baby sturgeon is the holy grail of river fodder dishes precisely because he’s left in the purgatory of this unnatural story with no watchdog or cop in sight! These incredible circumstances continue to make this rarest delicacy available to anyone with a magnifying glass of 50, a willingness to walk among baking rocks – and a keen eye and discreet palette, to pursue it.
Note that a careful and delicate scraping of rock surfaces to enclose the smallest pieces of flattened, parched baby sturgeon that so many people crave will be necessary here. A thimble with a plug should work to bag and secure that glittering “grip”. Also, please note that in both cases – recipes for dried eggs or early stages of life – both need to be reconstituted with water before full preparation. Sometimes there is water available in “old” Connecticut. In this case, you will have to walk the hot rocks for 30 or 40 meters to collect a natural water runoff from the river. For some, it adds an air of authenticity.
Alternatively, you can travel up the failing banks of the Connecticut River at Rock Dam to the adjacent supply channel – perpetually full of water and long left to serve, unnoticed and unnamed, as the de facto “industrial” Connecticut River. here. Isn’t this the craziest of wildlife sanctuaries? Take a bucket of this canal slosh, go back to the river bed and pour it into your thimble. At this point, the great caviar taste of twice-killed sturgeon roe can be relished with relish. For the short nose in the infancy stage, simply place the softened exoskeletons in an iron frying pan on the hot rocks, sear 30 seconds on each side; season to taste and enjoy!
Karl Meyer has been part of the Fisheries and Aquatic Studies Team for the FERC License Renewal of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project and the Turners Falls / Cabot Hydroelectric Facility since 2012. Meyer lives in Greenfield. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.