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Understanding the Flavor of Sturgeon: What You Need to Know

Understanding the Flavor of Sturgeon: What You Need to Know

While it is illegal to target Atlantic Sturgeon in the US, there are a total of 27 sturgeon species, and there are a few different types of sturgeon that people can eat. So what does sturgeon taste like?

Sturgeon has a distinctly strong flavor that has been described as fishy and unappealing. Most fishermen that have tried it marinate it with strong flavors to cover up the bad flavor.

The lake sturgeon is the most common type of sturgeon in North America. The lake sturgeon is edible, but it is not often sought after as a food source. The sturgeon’s eggs, on the other hand, are a more prized food. Caviar is sought after, much more so than the sturgeon’s flesh itself. 

So What Does Sturgeon Taste Like?

Okay, so with the legalities aside, let’s get to the type of flesh. The flavor is intense. There’s no denying it. The sturgeon flesh is best eaten raw. Eat it as sushi, sashimi, or even marinate it first before eating it. If you really want to avoid the raw flesh, you could boil it.

Author Note: There are many people on forums that say the sturgeon can be boiled and enjoyed. The texture of the sturgeon meat is tender, and the taste is refined. If you enjoy a strong fish taste, then you might enjoy the sturgeon taste. 

Is Sturgeon Even Edible?

Sturgeon fish in human hands

The flesh is edible, but the commercial fishing of sturgeon is limited. This is because overfishing has dramatically diminished the sturgeon population. 

Wild Sturgeon vs. Farmed Sturgeon

The farmed sturgeon is a milder version of the wild sturgeon. It has a more delicate flavor, and the texture can be described as similar to veal or even chicken. If you have a fillet of farmed sturgeon, you’ll find the flesh to be lean yet meaty and can have a firm texture. 

Cooking Tips

Even though it is not a common fish to catch and even illegal in some areas, it is still possible that you may be looking for sturgeon cooking tips. When it comes to cooking sturgeon, keep it as simple as possible. 

Simple Sturgeon Recipe

If you want something other than sashimi or sushi, you could opt for a sauteed sturgeon. Season your sturgeon fillets with your preferred spice. Lemon, salt, and pepper are the go-to trio for fish seasoning. Add Worcestershire sauce, and you have a winning combination.

Roll the fillets in flour, saute them in hot butter, and serve. Remember, the flesh is meaty, but overcooking will ruin them. Saute them for no more than 3 minutes per side. 

What are Sturgeon?

Sturgeon is the name given to 27 different species of the Acipenseridae fish family. All 27 species make the Northern hemisphere’s temperate waters. The Caspian sea is typically abundant with sturgeon, but they are also present in the Southern Atlantic waters of North America.

Some areas of the Pacific Northwest and the Black Sea are also home to some sturgeon species.  Some lakes and rivers in Europe are also home to sturgeon.

Most Sturgeon species will only begin breeding after 15 years, and their spawning habits are infrequent. Unlike other fish, the sturgeon only spawned every two to seven years.

Because of this, their populations can suffer if they need to recover. After depletion due to overfishing, it can take a great deal of time before their population recovers. 

Author Note: But while it seems the sturgeon cover a large portion of the Northern hemisphere’s water, there are severely dwindling numbers. Although sturgeon is a saltwater species, they lay their eggs in freshwater. 

Sturgeon and Caviar

Have you heard of caviar? Of course, you have. Even if you don’t eat caviar, the chances are high that you have heard of it. Most people don’t know that caviar is the matured eggs from the sturgeon species. Fish roe is the name given to fish eggs, but caviar is specifically the mature eggs from the sturgeon fish. 

You may find fish roe that comes from flying fish, trout, and salmon. Similarly, red caviar is not, technically, caviar, but it is salmon roe.

Fishing for Sturgeon

The man pulls fishing hook from the mouth of a sturgeon

If you want to go fishing for sturgeon, you should be careful of what type of sturgeon you’ll be targeting. A lake sturgeon is a safer option for many anglers often throughout North America. The freshwater systems of North America are abundant throughout the Mississippi River as well as the Hudson Bay. Sturgeon are regarded as one of the hardest fighting fish.

The lake sturgeon is a bottom-dwelling fish that tends to survive on the sandy bottoms of lakes and riverbeds. While they were once enjoying higher population numbers, they are now considered a threatened species.

Only one state out of the 20 that they inhabit has healthy population levels. The species is threatened because of a number of reasons, but primarily because they are over-harvested. But another reason is that they are suffering from habitat loss. This is because their natural habitat is being threatened due to the number of dams being constructed. 

Lake Sturgeon

The lake sturgeon have a long lifespan. The females can live up to 150 years, and the males live up to 60 years. They are slow-moving fish, and this is probably because they live to be so old. They are migratory fish and swim upriver for the spawning season. It takes two and a half decades before the females spawn. Males, with their shorter lifespan, will mature between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. 

Lake Sturgeon Appearance

The lake sturgeon can be an intimidating fish at first glance, and second and third, for that matter. They are large, and they appear to be prehistoric creatures. Mature lake sturgeons grow up to 9 feet long, and their weight can reach an impressive 300 pounds.

Their tail is similar to a shark’s, and they have scutes layered over their body. Strong cartilage and bone make up their skeleton. 

The sturgeon is one of the most prehistoric fish. It once enjoyed healthy population levels, and people on either side of the US coast as well as Europe enjoyed this fish. The roe are more popular and enjoyed as refined caviar.

However, by the time the millennium came to a close, the sturgeon’s numbers had dwindled. This is because of poor management and overfishing. Today, it is difficult to find wild sturgeon, especially not if you are looking to purchase it.

Wild sturgeons are highly protected, and there are strict laws against targeting these fish in the wild.

There are seven different types of sturgeon in North America. However, there are only two types that are harvested. These two types are the white and green sturgeons. They are still harvested, but only on a small scale. 

More Sturgeon Facts

Siberian sturgeon

Most sturgeon found in the supermarket, whether flesh or caviar, comes from sturgeon farms. California has the most sturgeon farms, and it is typically white sturgeon. The white sturgeon looks similar to beluga.

The flesh of the white sturgeon is believed to be the best flavor, which is probably why the most farmed sturgeon is the white sturgeon. 

In the wild, sturgeon can live past 100 years and are known to reach absurdly heavyweights. Farmed sturgeon, on the other hand, are typically much smaller.

A mature farmed sturgeon can weigh between 18 and 22 pounds. A wild sturgeon, however, can reach up to 2000 pounds. While not all will reach that weight, there are a few in the wild that can have been known to reach that weight. 

Author Note: Sturgeons do not have an internal skeleton and do not have the typical scales either. Instead, they have rows of plates, or bony shields, that offer them protection. These shields are quite sharp and bony and are also called buttons. 

Farmed sturgeon are privy to controlled environments, and therefore their flesh should be consistent in both flavor and quality. The wild sturgeon, on the other hand, will have more significant variances in flavor. How a wild sturgeon tastes depends on what they feed on.

One of the more significant contributing factors is whether or not they are fished from freshwater or brackish water. While farmed white sturgeon is known for their delicate flavor, wild sturgeon can have a more pronounced fishy flavor.

The wild-caught sturgeon are referred to as green sturgeon and typically have a strong flavor. Most sturgeon flash is meaty, firm, and their protective skin is inedible. Raw sturgeon flesh is a pale pink color that turns to a white color when it is cooked. 

Sturgeon Diet

When you want to catch a lake sturgeon, you’ll need to know what they will prefer to feed on. Because they typically feed off of the bottom of a river, they lack any real teeth.

What they are equipped with are thick lips they use to suck up their food.

Above these grotesque lips, they have a long snout. And to top off their appearance, they have four whiskers (known as barbells) they use to find their food. As for their food, they prefer to feed on snails, crayfish, worms, insects, and small fish.

Their whiskers are their locators, and if they find a worthy treat, they drop their elongated snout and suck up the unlucky organism. 


We hope you enjoyed this article on what does sturgeon taste like! If you want to learn more about sturgeon, check out our articles on how to catch sturgeon from shore as well as the best sturgeon bait recipes.

And while sturgeon is edible, we recommend you skip eating it due to its bad taste and often endangered status (like other rare fish such as Opah).

Happy Hunting!


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