Try some VIU sturgeon

Something deliciously fishy is happening at VIU’s International Centre for Sturgeon Studies — and it’s catching on at local restaurants

  • Aug. 16, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Executive chef Rick Davidson of Pacific Prime Restaurant at The Beach Club in Parksville displays one of the dishes he is offering using sturgeon sold by Vancouver Island University.

Something deliciously fishy is happening at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) International Centre for Sturgeon Studies (ICSS) — and it’s catching on at local restaurants and retail outlets.

The ICSS recently started selling cans of smoked sturgeon and fresh fillets to restaurants and retail shops — both as a revenue generator to help with the education and research that goes on at the facility, and as a way of building awareness about what the ICSS does.

So far three restaurants — the Westwood Bistro in Nanaimo, Pacific Prime Restaurant and Lounge in Parksville and Edible Canada in Vancouver — are serving up VIU sturgeon processed and smoked locally at St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse.

“Our sturgeon are grown in a land-based, closed-containment, re-circulating system which is used for training our fisheries and aquaculture students, so there’s a local, environmentally friendly, educational aspect to it,” said Jenny Dawson-Coates, a VIU Fish Health Biologist. “It’s also a really nice fish for eating. In other places in the world, it’s a delicacy.”

The ICSS raises thousands of white sturgeon to age two, at which time fish densities need to be reduced. Because of federal and provincial laws, releasing the fish into the wild is not an option. Selling sturgeon products is an innovative way for the self-funded facility to supplement grant funding.

Islanders who want to try sturgeon can look for VIU smoked canned sturgeon at several local retailers. For inspiration, they can also visit the restaurants mentioned to see what chefs are doing with the smoked and fresh fish.

Ian Lane, Pacific Prime Restaurant’s food and beverage director has used VIU’s fresh sturgeon fillets as the restaurant’s featured ‘catch of the day’ a number of times.

“Sturgeon is a great, underutilized fish,” he said. “Because it is a sustainable, ethical, local product, we thought it was a great fit for what we want to do at this restaurant.”

At Westwood Bistro, guests can sample the smoked product in a risotto-filled crepe with yam cream. On Granville Island in Vancouver, Edible Canada is serving up VIU sturgeon in a seafood salad.

White sturgeon — the largest sturgeon species in North America — can grow up to six metres long and can live up to 150 years old. Sturgeon have been swimming the waters of the world for more than 200 million years.

Since 1984, VIU has been researching white sturgeon and teaching students and the general public about the species.

For more on the ICSS visit www2.viu.ca/sturgeon/

— Submitted by VIU

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