Caviar may seem like an intimidating luxury food if you haven’t tried it before. However, with a little bit of research, caviar will become an approachable indulgence.
Our Ultimate Guide to Caviar will dispel the notions that this delicacy is out of reach. Read on to learn more about this delicious food and how to buy and eat it. After that first delicious bite, you’ll be hooked on caviar.
What is Caviar?
Movies and television series refer to caviar often - but many have never tried it themselves and may even wonder what it is exactly.
Caviar is a simple delicacy consisting of salt-cured roe (fish eggs). A Persian word, caviar originally referred to only the roe from wild sturgeon captured in the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
These eggs are removed from the mature sturgeon and placed in a salt-water brine. This preserves the caviar while developing its distinctive taste.
As the concept spread to other parts of the world, all but the caviar purists have expanded the meaning of the word caviar to include roe from a variety of fish. This now includes trout, salmon, whitefish, and carp.
Many sturgeon species don’t reach maturity and begin producing roe until they are 10-15 years old. Some species of sturgeon can live for up to 100 years and some of the best caviar comes from older fish. This investment in time is one reason why the price of caviar can be high.
What does Caviar taste like?
Caviar is coveted for its distinct taste. Diners enjoy a complex tasting experience that should be buttery and can also be slightly nutty, fruity, or earthy. The fishy and salty taste will not be overly strong in quality caviar, instead leaving only a slight saltwater taste. Caviar can range from a delicate flavor to a robust and intense character.
The taste of caviar varies not just between fish species but also between individual fish. The age of the fish and the environment they were raised in, including the prevalence of pollution and diet, can improve or worsen the quality and taste.
The sensation of eating caviar is just as important and cherished as the taste. The pleasant pops of the caviar when you bite them combined with the rolling, smooth texture of the eggs is a delight for the senses.
Where to Buy Caviar?
Caviar is subject to stringent guidelines regarding labeling and documentation. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not as enforced as it should be.
That’s why it’s essential to only buy caviar from a trusted retailer. If they can’t tell you the country of origin and type of fish, then switch to a more trustworthy buyer.
The selection of indulgent caviar available at Le Gourmet Central is certified sea to table.
Read through the detailed information on each type to find the right caviar for you.
For the best dining experience, a tin of at least 30 grams per two people is the recommended size.
Types of Caviar
The types of caviar vary depending on their region. With the development of quality farm-raised caviar, this luxury food is now more widely available without the dangers of overfishing.
Harvested from the Caspian Sea, caviar from the Beluga sturgeon is expensive and difficult to find. The soft eggs are large and typically a black or silver color.
Due to its endangered status, it is currently illegal to import Beluga caviar into the United States. The only legal suppliers in the USA farm the fish from inside the country. Its rarity and delicious taste make it one of the most famous caviar varieties.
Pacific White Sturgeon Caviar
This California-native sturgeon is a favorite in the United States. Pacific White Sturgeon Caviar is renowned for its balanced character. Its delightful fruity taste is complemented by buttery and nutty notes. The clean taste and generously sized roe are responsible for its place as a favorite variety.
Siberian Sturgeon Caviar
This glossy caviar is harvested from the fluvial basins of Siberia. Siberian Sturgeon Caviar is dark in color with a full and intense flavor. It is treasured for its notes of nuts, oysters, and seaweed blending harmoniously with sweet hints of honey.
This prized type of caviar is one of the most requested varieties in the world. Oscietra caviar (also known as Ossetra) is harvested from the Caspian Sea and neighboring countries. It has a deep, rich flavor that features a complex blend of fruit and toasted grains.
How to Store your Caviar
There’s no point in saving your tin of caviar for a rainy day. This delicate food is highly perishable and won’t hold up to lengthy storage times.
For best results, store your unopened tin or glass of caviar between 28°F–32°F for up to four weeks. Some fridges won’t maintain a temperature that cold. If so, then keep the tin in a drawer in an ice bag.
After you’ve cracked open your tasty tin of caviar, finish enjoying it within 48 hours.
How to Eat Caviar
Caviar purists insist on eating caviar on its own with a traditional mother of pearl spoon in small bites. Silver spoons should be avoided as they will tarnish and leave a metallic taste in your mouth.
If you are serving the caviar up as hors d'oeuvre throughout a longer event like a party, display the opened tin of caviar resting over crushed ice.
Caviar is a taste in its own league, so it's important to preserve its character. Don’t waste your caviar by overpowering it with strong, competing flavors.
A light and savory blini (a miniature Russian buckwheat pancake) is the perfect edible vessel for your premium caviar.
Guests will be amazed by a canape or appetizer that takes you almost no time to prepare. Unwrap your package of blinis, warm them up for a few minutes, and then place a careful dollop of caviar on top. Finish it off with some creamy butter, sour cream, or creme fraiche to complement the sharp taste of caviar.
Topping new boiled potatoes with caviar is another popular option. Add some chopped onions or minced hard-boiled egg whites to the dish for a mouth-watering canape.
The Perfect Drink Accompaniment for Caviar
A glass of crispy, bubbly champagne (properly chilled of course) is the ideal companion for caviar.
Dry white wines and chardonnays, and are other popular choices. The drier and more acidic the wine, the more the salty taste of the caviar sings. To enjoy caviar like the Russians, wash it down with very cold, high-quality vodka.
Sparkling mineral water on its own or with a hint of lemon or lime is a wonderful choice for those who choose not to drink alcohol.
Caviar for the Perfect Finishing Touch
Some chefs use caviar as an unexpected, savory topping. Garnish a creamy, lightly herbed spaghetti with a few ounces of roe for an unexpected punch of flavor.
Interested in serving up caviar for a special event or romantic dinner for two? Head to the Le Gourmet Central caviar section to select your next gourmet experience.