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The Dish: Sturgeon Bacon
Where to Get It: Brabo, 1600 King St., Alexandria; (703) 894-3440; braborestaurant.com
What It Is: “Sturgeon has a fairly significant fat content, so we treat it just like pork belly,” says chef de cuisine Harper McClure. Filets of the Washington state farm-raised fish are cured for three days in a mixture including salt, brown sugar, black peppercorn, and maple syrup. Then the fish is washed, rubbed with more maple syrup—because you can never have too much maple syrup—and hot smoked. Pickled red pearl onions, wild watercress, and Concord grape puree accompany thin slices of the bacon.
What It Tastes Like: The sturgeon is salty and smoky, just like a hearty rasher. But let it sit on your tongue for a moment, and you’ll taste hints of brine and the fish’s trademark flavor. Suddenly, there’s a pleasant pop from the grape puree, which lightens and brightens the finish.
The Story: This unusual pairing creates balance: “[Grapes are] sweet, but they have that acidity which cuts through the saltiness and smokiness of the bacon,” says McClure. The dish garnered an interesting question at a recent event where it was being served. “One woman asked, ‘How do you turn bacon into a fish?’” says McClure, “And I think she was stone-cold sober.”
How to Eat It: Get all the components together in a single bite, because you’ll need the vinegary pop of the onions and the sweet and sour bite of the grape puree to balance the boldness of the bacon.