Author Archives: Barry Nash

Sturgeon & Bacon Appetizer

north carolina fisheries | sturgeon

Sturgeon appetizer. Photo by Vanda Lewis

Sturgeon & bacon appetizer. Photo by Vanda Lewis

  • 8 ounces sturgeon
  • extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 4 asparagus spears
  • 8 strips red bell pepper, julienned
  • 4 chive leaves

Sauté sturgeon in heated extra virgin olive oil or butter until fillets are opaque and cooked through. Cook bacon at 350 F until browned. Grill asparagus.

For each serving, wrap 2 ounces sautéed fish, one asparagus spear and two julienned red bell pepper strips with ½ strip of cooked bacon. Garnish with one chive leaf. Serves 4.

Recipe by Chef Tim Coyne of Bistro by the Sea, Morehead City, N.C.


Coming Soon to a Restaurant Near You: Farmed Sturgeon

North Carolina Fisheries: Sturgeon

Cultured Russian sturgeon. Photo by Vanda Lewis

Historically, sturgeon was considered among the finest seafood available along the East Coast of the United States. The fish was prized for its firm texture and delicate flavor.

However, the population of domestic sturgeon collapsed in the early 20th century and has never recovered. The Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, which are indigenous to North Carolina, remain on the endangered species list.

As a result, most American consumers are unfamiliar with this species, particularly as a source of nutritious protein.

Today, sturgeon are considered a valuable commercial species because of the high price of its roe, better known as caviar.

Currently two North Carolina businesses – Marshallberg Farm of Smyrna and Atlantic Caviar & Sturgeon of Lenoir – are culturing Russian sturgeon, Acipenser gueldenstadtii. These fish produce Ossetra caviar, considered second in quality behind the famed Beluga.

These farms use indoor recirculating aquaculture systems. The Russian sturgeon are raised indoors to prevent them from escaping into the wild. The recirculating systems capture effluent from the tanks and repurpose it for agricultural use.


Cultured Russian sturgeon. Photo by Marshallberg Farm

Originally business success for cultured Russian sturgeon depended solely on the production of caviar, a luxury product for which there is worldwide demand. However, Atlantic now has high-quality sturgeon meat available for sale. It is a source of nutritious, flavorful protein.

A market for fresh sturgeon has not existed in the U.S. for more than 100 years. As a result, consumers are unfamiliar with the superior quality of sturgeon meat, which is similar to grouper and swordfish – both popular and in short supply.

In 2013, North Carolina Sea Grant researchers collaborated Tim Coyne, executive chef at Bistro By The Sea in Morehead City, to develop a variety of culinary preparations using cultured sturgeon as the prime ingredient. In a series of tastings, some of the chef’s actual customers were invited to decide the cooking methods and flavor profiles they preferred most.

Chef. Photo by E-Ching Lee

Chef Tim Coyne, of Bistro By The Sea, prepares a sturgeon for a tasting panel. Photo by E-Ching Lee

In upcoming posts, we will share with you the sturgeon preparations that were popular with our consumer panelists. We also will provide an overview of the species and information on its nutritional value.

Barry Nash and John Burke

John Burke worked as a fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C., where he cultured commercially important fishes and conducted early life history and stock enhancement investigations. Though retired, his fascination for fishes hasn’t faltered. A resident of Marshallberg, N.C., he spends time culturing koi carp, and catching, consuming and creating watercolor paintings of local fishes.

Remembering Mariner’s Menu Author Joyce Taylor

EduJoyce_Colorcator and author Joyce Taylor passed away Saturday, Nov. 16, after an extended illness. She was 81.

Joyce grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina but called Carteret County, N.C., home for nearly 60 years. She began her career as a consumer seafood specialist in 1974 for North Carolina Sea Grant at the North Carolina State University Seafood Laboratory in Morehead City where she became known as the “Guru of Seafood.” Joyce received recognition and numerous awards for raising the public visibility of North Carolina seafood.

Under her leadership, a group of community volunteers developed kitchen-tested, seafood recipes using only the commercial species landed by North Carolina fishermen. The very best earned the approval of Joyce and her team, and were included in the group’s newsletters — and later in the resource manual Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas, for which this blog is named.

Friends are invited to gather to remember Joyce at the North Carolina State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology, 303 College Circle, Room 205, Morehead City on Friday, Nov. 22, from noon to 2 p.m.

To learn more about Joyce, go to

Chef Profiles: Gerry Fong

seafood traditions

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Chef Gerry Fong
Photo by Kent Graham

Chef Gerry Fong learned how to eat from his parents, Henry and Mary Fong, which, as Gerry says is “the basis of how to be a great cook.” Gerry’s parents were successful restaurateurs for more than 20 years in Rockingham and Laurinburg, N.C.  They taught him the importance of quality ingredients, in part, by taking him at a young age to many fine-dining restaurants in New York City.

As Gerry grew up, he explored other occupations but always found himself returning to the kitchen. After college he traveled to the Philippines and worked on a hog farm in Laurinburg. Eventually, he followed his mother’s advice and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. There, the culinary fundamentals his parents had instilled were honed and refined.  He also met his wife, Mariah, while attending the Culinary Institute. After graduation, they traveled the country to explore regional cuisines while working. Their jobs included stints at the Ritz-Carlton, Willoughby Brewing Company in Ohio and at Ashten’s in Southern Pines, N.C.

Gerry’s culinary journey eventually took him back to New Bern. At Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant, Gerry serves food that reflects his life: playful, precise, tasty and of the highest quality. Gerry also is dedicated to supporting local fishermen and never forgets his Chinese-Carolinian roots, marrying the two ’til he achieves food nirvana!

Contributed by Barry Nash

An Invasive Predator Becomes a Culinary Delicacy

another fresh seafood idea

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With its vibrant red hue and long, venomous spines, lionfish are a resplendent underwater sight. However, they are threatening the biodiversity of coastal reefs in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Lionfish are native to the western Pacific but were brought to this country by the LionFishaquarium trade. The first lionfish were observed in the waters of south Florida around 1985. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration surmise lionfish were released from fish tanks into the wild, perhaps intentionally.

By 2000, lionfish were established along the North Carolina coast and were invading the Caribbean by 2007. Lionfish now infest the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and South America.

Lionfish can reach lengths of 12 to 15 inches, weigh up to 2.6 pounds and live up to 15 years. Voracious carnivores, they prey on more than 50 economically important species, such as juvenile snapper and grouper. Lionfish will spread their feathery, fan-like pectoral fins to herd small fish into a confined space where they can easily consume them. They have become one of the top predators in many coral reefs of the Atlantic.

Lionfish are best known for their poisonous spines. The fish deliver their venom through an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins. A lionfish sting is extremely painful, and the discomfort can last for days. Though rarely fatal, the venom can cause sweating, respiratory distress and even paralysis in individuals who are highly sensitive to the toxin. A lionfish’s venom glands are located within its spines; its flesh is nontoxic.

Lionfish are a food source in the Caribbean and are becoming a delicacy in this country. This species has been on the menus of some high-end restaurants in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. With the species spreading so rapidly along the Atlantic Coast, the best solution to the lionfish invasion may be to eat them.

For more information on lionfish, visit the following sites

Contributed by Barry Nash

How to Dress and Fillet Lionfish

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood

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Barry Nash, North Carolina Sea Grant’s seafood technology and marketing specialist, demonstrates how to dress and fillet the invasive lionfish.


To avoid being stung, use puncture-proof gloves when handling a lionfish with its spines intact. To clip the dorsal spines, hold the fish by the head, and using heavy kitchen shears, start cutting at the rear of the fish and work forward. This prevents the spines from lying flat along the back. Clip only the first spine of each pelvic fin and the first three of the anal fin. The remaining are rays and are not venomous. It is not necessary to clip the tail or pectoral fins.

Morris, James. Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management. 36.

cRemove the scales with a fish scaler or the dull side of a knife.

dCut around pelvic fins and remove viscera and all black membranes and blood, particularly the blood streak running along the backbone.

eRinse the fish well – with attention to the belly cavity – under cold, running  water.

fCut the flesh just above the tail.

gAt the pectoral fin, just behind the head, cut into the flesh at a 45-degree angle toward the head until the knife reaches the backbone.

hTurn the knife and follow the backbone to the tail, keeping the knife against the backbone. Or, if you prefer, reverse this and cut from the tail to the head. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side. Always direct the knife away from you when filleting.


Remove the fillet and rinse it well under cold, running water.

Taylor, Joyce. Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas. North Carolina Sea Grant: 48-49.

jThe skin is edible, so it can be left on the fillet or removed.

Contributed by Barry Nash

Chef Profiles: Hallock Cooper Howard

seafood traditions

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Chef Hallock Cooper Howard(Photo by: Barry Nash)

Chef Hallock Cooper Howard
Photo by: Jared Bell

In the fall of 1998, Hallock Cooper Howard, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, decided to open a restaurant with the help of her parents, Pam and Buddy Cooper, and a few long-time family friends. In April 1999, Amos Mosquito’s Swampside Café opened for business, serving lunch and dinner on the Morehead City waterfront.

Four years later, Hallock and her husband Sandy moved the restaurant from Morehead City to Atlantic Beach, renaming it Amos Mosquito’s Restaurant and Bar. In 2006, Hallock and Sandy hired an executive chef in anticipation of the birth of their first child. After the arrival of their second child in 2009, Hallock began working less and parenting more.

Hallock and Sandy brought on Luke Maguire as their executive chef when their first chef left in spring 2012. Luke comes to Amos Mosquito’s from the Wilson Country Club and has spent the past 14 years working in some of the finest restaurants in eastern North Carolina. He specializes in modern American cuisine with a southern flair, and enjoys cooking with local, sustainable ingredients.

Amos Mosquito’s is a member of Carteret Catch (, a local-seafood educational organization dedicated to enhancing the public’s awareness of the Carteret County commercial fishing industry. The Carteret Catch brand is assurance that consumers are getting seafood direct from local fishermen. You will find fresh, local seafood at retailers and restaurants that proudly display the Carteret Catch logo in their windows and on their menus.

Contributed by Barry Nash