Caviar has long been known as a “rich dish,” and for good reason. They have a velvety texture, a fishy flavor, and pearl-sized pearls that explode in your mouth as you chew.
However, did you know that caviar used to be considered a poor man’s food? Caviar was once a staple in the everyday diet of Russian fishermen. They used to eat boiled potatoes with caviar. Caviar is also referred to as ‘roe,’ a Russian term.
What is Caviar?
‘Unfertilized salt eggs’ is a literal translation of the phrase ‘caviar.’ Caviar is made up of fish eggs that come from only a few types of fish. Black, olive green, grey, and orange are the most common colors.
Originally, caviar was obtained from a fish known as sturgeon.’ Female sturgeon fish is carefully kept to generate caviar, and there are roughly 26 types of sturgeon accessible.
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How Is Caviar Harvested?
Caviar of the best quality is gathered when the females prepare to spawn. Sturgeons are taken in the wild as they migrate from saltwater to freshwater channels to deposit their eggs.
Sturgeons will be monitored using ultrasound in fish farms to identify when their eggs are ready to be harvested. A sturgeon can release several million eggs at once, depending on its size.
What Makes Caviar Unique?
From color to flavor, each caviar variety has its distinct characteristics. Beluga caviar, for example, is silky smooth, and buttery, with a nutty, hazelnut-like flavor.
The color of the gleaming caviar eggs varies from black to greenish-grey. The famed “Caspian pop” occurs when the egg bursts in the mouth of true caviar.
Caviar is graded based on size, color, firmness, flavor, and scent.
• The firmest and richest eggs are Grade 1.
• The quality of Grade 2 is a tad poorer.
The caviar comes in five different varieties
Sturgeon caviar has been consumed for hundreds of years. Fish eggs have been extracted and consumed from various fish species since the 1800s, but none have acquired the stature of authentic caviar.
Almost all of the 27 sturgeon species have eggs that can be harvested, although the caviar market has long been dominated by osetra, beluga, and sevruga.
Osetra sturgeon eggs are brown to golden in color and slightly smaller than beluga caviar. The older the fish and the lighter the eggs, the more expensive the osetra caviar. It has a salty, sea-like flavor to it.
The most prized caviar comes from the Beluga sturgeon, a big prehistoric fish that may grow to be 15 feet long and weigh about 3,000 pounds. The Caspian Sea, which is bordered by Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, is home to this species.
The caviar is rich, with no fishy flavor, and comes in a variety of colors ranging from pearl grey to exceedingly dark, earning it the moniker “black caviar.”
The Kaluga is a huge freshwater sturgeon whose caviar is said to be similar to Beluga caviar in flavor. Kaluga eggs are silky smooth, with a buttery flavor that is gently salted.
The eggs of three varieties of sturgeon from the Caspian Sea are used to make this caviar: sevruga, sterlet, and Siberian sturgeon. The eggs are little and grey, and they’re one of the most popular caviar varieties, with a characteristic buttery flavor.
The United States was a major caviar producer in the nineteenth century. It has had a comeback, and American caviar is once again a popular delicacy. It comes from lake sturgeon, wild Atlantic sturgeon, and white sturgeon, among others.
Where Can You Find the Best Caviar?
The best caviar originates from the Caspian Sea basin countries, which are home to the Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga sturgeon. Russia and Iran have controlled the caviar market for centuries, producing the best-grade and most sought-after caviar on the planet.
China has recently become a major exporter of caviar. China supplied almost 45 percent of the caviar transported to the United States in 2017.
Why is Caviar expensive?
Caviars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the price varies depending on the type and quality. 30 grams of caviar can set you back around Rs. 8,000-18,000.
The most expensive variety is beluga caviar, which has a price range that goes much higher. You might be asking why caviar is so expensive since female sturgeons are bred in enormous numbers.
It’s because it takes a female fish about 10-15 years to start producing eggs. Previously, the female fish had to be killed in order to extract the eggs, but thanks to technological breakthroughs, fish-friendly methods are now used that do not require the female fish to be killed.
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10 Facts About Caviar
1. Caviar is one of the oldest delicacies known to man. Caviar was prized by monarchs and aristocrats long before raw oysters, Champagne, or even truffles were considered delicacies. Caviar was known to be consumed by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Russian tsars.
2. Caviar is not as costly as you may believe. It’s not inexpensive, to be sure. However, caviar prices have plummeted in recent years as developments in aquaculture, particularly in the United States, have increased the availability and affordability of farmed sturgeon. In the early nineteenth century, when lake sturgeon was determined to be numerous, the United States was also responsible for a significant decline in pricing.
3. Your sushi contains salmon roe, not caviar! Caviar was first gathered in the Caspian Sea by Russian and Persian fishermen. Unfertilized salt-cured fish eggs from a variety of sturgeon species, including Ossetra, Sevruga, and Beluga. For caviar, nearly all of the 26 species of sturgeon have been employed.
4. Caviar is similar to wine in terms of flavor. Reserve caviar, the rarest and most expensive caviar, will be sought after by caviar junkies and VIPs. Many countries in the Middle Ages had rules requiring the monarchs to have the best caviar. Reserve caviar was the caviar in question.
5. Caviar may be heard. When Petrossian recruits a new caviar grader, they look for someone with a good ear for music. Friction can be heard as fish eggs rub against each other. When properly packed, the sound of fine caviar is eerily akin to a cat’s purr.
6. Caviar lasts for several days. Caviar has a long shelf life, even after it’s been opened because it’s technically cured fish. It should last approximately a month if kept in the coldest portion of your refrigerator, as near to the freezer as feasible.
7. Caviar can be a long-term investment. According to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, several of the 26 species of sturgeon are currently designated endangered, but they have all been severely overfished. White sturgeon and paddlefish roe from American farms are recommended as the go-to source for sustainable fish alternatives.
8. Almas caviar, made from the eggs of 60 to 100-year-old Iranian beluga sturgeon, is the most costly caviar on record, costing almost $35,000 per kilo ($1,000/oz.).
9. The color, flavor, texture, and maturity of caviar are all factors to consider. Older, larger eggs with a lighter hue are the best and most expensive caviars. Caviar of lower grade is younger, has a milder fishy flavor, and is darker in color. It’s also helpful for caviar rookies, who are more likely to start with the less expensive, milder varieties.
10. Blini isn’t the end-all solution. Traditional round puffy pancakes with crème fraîche and caviar are delicious. Early Russians, on the other hand, loved their roe atop a baked potato. Caviar may now be seen on everything from pizza to hamburgers.