What exactly is Caviar?
If you've ever wondered what caviar actually is, you've come to the right place. Here's the scoop on those tiny fish eggs and why they're so expensive.
Whether you're a bona fide foodie or just want to broaden your knowledge of food trivia, there are probably a few things you've been wondering over the years. After all, even if you eat certain foods, you may not know what they actually contain. For example, do you know what sashimi or wasabi is, for that matter? And since we're on the subject of fish, let's talk about caviar. Sure, you know it's a delicacy and that a little box of good stuff might cost more than your mortgage for the month, but what is caviar, exactly? And why is it so expensive?
Those shiny little pearls have a long and legendary history and there's definitely a reason why they cost a pretty penny. You may not even realize that there are many types of caviar and they come in all different colors, flavors, textures and price ranges. Here are the details on this expensive starter kit and everything you need to know about it, including where to find ethically sourced strains.
Caviar is obtained from the fish roe (roe) of the female sturgeon. Traditionally, the term caviar only referred to wild sturgeon eggs caught in the Caspian and Black Seas. This was the most prized type of caviar, but due to overfishing in the region in the 1980s and 1990s, caviar is now produced all over the world. While you can find cheaper alternatives to caviar based on trout or salmon roe, real caviar comes from sturgeon, wild-caught or farmed. Black caviar is probably the best known type of caviar, but red, golden and brown varieties are also available. Sure, you will find very high quality caviar in fine specialty stores, but you can also find it in some large stores. In fact, caviar is one of the most expensive things you can buy from Costco.
Almost all marine animals, from sea urchins and fish to squid and shrimp, are capable of producing eggs. Fish eggs, or fish eggs, are generally found in the form of unfertilized egg masses within the ovaries of a female marine animal. Fish roe can be used as a raw, cooked, raw and salted product, or it can be made into caviar.
Caviar refers to a specific style of preparing sturgeon eggs. In other words, all caviar is a type of fish roe, but not all fish roe is caviar. "The term caviar is acceptable for eggs caught from species other than sturgeon, but it must be preceded by the common or usual name of the fish," adds Michael Gelman of Marky's Caviar. "For example, if you're talking about salmon caviar (which isn't some kind of sturgeon), it should be labeled salmon caviar."
Simple fish roe has a less rich and less robust flavor than caviar, so it is often used as a topping for sushi or as an ingredient in a more complex dish. Caviar, on the other hand, is typically the genuine star of a dish or snack served on its own spoon.
Although there are many varieties of caviar, three of the best known varieties are Sevruga, Ossetra and Beluga.
The least expensive form of caviar, Sevruga is the most common variety. Sevruga caviar looks like small black pearls, a little light, its insides are juicy and it has a soft and buttery taste. Despite its relative affordability, Sevruga is often considered the richest and most intense flavor, with a clean and fresh finish.
Ossetra is the most popular caviar in the world in part because, while still expensive, it tends to be the cheapest form of high-end caviar. Firm, juicy, golden and brown pearls are known for their salty, nutty and rich flavor.
And now the most expensive type of caviar: Beluga. Incredibly rare, it commands nearly $ 200 to $ 350 per ounce. Its eggs are large, dark gray and well separated, and come from the wild Beluga sturgeon. However, as the popularity of this caviar endangered Beluga sturgeon populations, the United States banned the import of this type of caviar in 2008. As a result, some forms of caviar are actually illegal in the United States.
As previously mentioned, each type of caviar has its own distinct flavor, but it also has its own unique texture. That said, there are some similarities across the board, and most caviar starts with a burst of salty and salty flavor that tastes faintly like fish or oysters and lingers for a while after eating it. Other types of eggs, however, may have a more umami flavor.
Although caviar is now considered one of the most exclusive and desirable luxury foods in the world, this has not always been the case. Until the once abundant eggs (which were actually served as bar food!) Became scarce around 1910, people hated eating caviar.
There is no single correct way to enjoy caviar, but in terms of how it is typically served, less is more. Caviar is best enjoyed on its own, eaten straight with a spoon, but can also be served as a garnish, spread or as an appetizer with unsalted crackers or blini (thin, savory mini pancakes). Caviar is also often served as a sort of preparation, with chopped eggs, sour cream, and crème fraîche, often all stacked on top of a blini.
Typically served as an appetizer and presented in small half-teaspoon portions, it is typically paired with a dry sparkling wine or iced vodka (premium Russian vodka is the more traditional pairing); these drinks help bring out the distinct, salty sea flavors of the caviar. Regardless of how you like caviar, don't rush the eating process and whatever you do, don't chew it! The texture and flavor of the caviar should be savored, so place the caviar on the tongue, spread it around the mouth and let the tongue feel the individual beads before swallowing. Sure, if you're eating caviar with a cracker, you'll need to chew it, but if that's the case, take small bites and enjoy it all the way through.
How to store caviar
Like most fish dishes, caviar should be eaten fresh. Caviar often comes in a jar or tin, which should also be refrigerated before opening. Be sure to check the label, however, as different types of caviar and containers require different storage temperatures. They also last for several periods of time without being open, usually two to six weeks. Experts recommend storing caviar between 25 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but because it's colder than most refrigerators, you'll want to place it in the coldest part of your refrigerator (typically in a back corner).
Once the caviar has been opened, it must be hermetically sealed and immediately stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, where it will last about three days. Unopened caviar can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks. Given its high price, caviar is definitely not something you want to sit back and go bad.
Caviar is so expensive because it is not a readily and widely available product. Sturgeon can take more than 10 years to mature, and decades of overfishing have made them even more sought after and difficult to find. In addition, a high degree of skill and experience is required to extract the eggs, not to mention its conversion into premium quality caviar. During the curing process, the eggs are removed from the fish's ovaries, then chilled, rinsed, weighed, salted, cooled again, drained and dried before being packaged. Much of this work has to be done by hand to keep the eggs intact.
Like any other food item, there are several degrees of luxury when it comes to caviar, which can cost between $ 50 and $ 3,000 an ounce. Is caviar worth the money? Well, if you like it and can afford it, then yes. If not, it's probably not worth it and you could make vegetarian versions of "poor man's caviar" using eggplant or black beans, which also make tasty toasts for toast.
In the late 1800s, the demand for caviar grew so rapidly that overfishing threatened sturgeon populations and many fisheries eventually collapsed. Overfishing, pollution, and dams that closed breeding grounds and destroyed the sturgeon habitat contributed to the dwindling of their populations, and in 1917 California banned commercial and sport fishing for white sturgeon.
Like many luxury products, sustainability and ethical sourcing aren't always part of a company's sourcing and manufacturing strategy, but some companies make it a priority. The California Caviar Company, for example, is a world leader in the production and distribution of environmentally friendly and sustainably farmed caviar. Not only do they supply the best Michelin-starred restaurants and chefs in the world, but they also sell directly to the public, so they're a great place to find a huge variety of sustainably produced caviar. Marky's also offers sustainable caviar options, including American Beluga caviar which is harvested from fish farmed at Sturgeon Aquafarms in Florida.