Russians appreciate not only red and black caviar, but also yellow, pink and beige varieties of fish roe. But what's the difference apart from the color?
Caviar (ikra) is classified according to the family of fish from which it is obtained and the method of fishing. Therefore, the most frequent varieties are black caviar, red caviar and eggs of common species (often called yellow or white eggs). In Russian, all these types are also called "caviar".
The culture of consuming black caviar dates back to at least 800 years ago. The secretary of the Mongol ruler Batu Khan mentioned the delicacy in 1240, and in the 15th century, black Volga caviar began to be supplied to the table of the Grand Princes of Moscow. It comes from the sturgeon fish family - beluga, ossetra, sevruga and sterlet.
Black caviar is an expensive delicacy to be enjoyed cold and eaten leisurely, for example with champagne. It is served by the spoon or on toast, in tartlets, on slices of cucumber or with hard-boiled egg. Another traditional way of serving it is with pancakes.
1. Beluga caviar
Beluga caviar with vodka.
Beluga caviar is a favorite of gourmets. It is one of the most expensive caviar and one of the most appreciated for its flavor. Beluga caviar has a slightly nutty flavor and its grains have a golden hue. It is believed that the older the fish, the tastier the caviar. The diameter of the grains is approximately 3.5 mm.
2. Ossetra caviar
Asparagus with ossetra caviar, sorrel mousse, seaweed sour cream.
Caviar grains of ossetra are smaller than those of beluga - they reach 2.5 mm. Its color is yellowish-brown and has a scent of seaweed. It is also known for its low salt content, which can be a boon for some people. To preserve the unusual taste of the sea, the saline solution prepared for it is less concentrated than for beluga.
3. Sevruga caviar
The star sturgeon or sevruga was widespread in the Black, Azov and Caspian seas, so its caviar is traditionally valued less than beluga and ossetra caviar.
The grains of sevruga caviar are quite small - their diameter is just 1 mm but they are firmer than beluga. It is considered not as tasty as other varieties of black caviar, but is distinguished by its high fat content.
4. Caviar of sterlet
Connoisseurs recommend placing a jar of caviar on ice for 20 minutes before serving. It is best to eat caviar from the skin of the hand, placing it between the thumb and forefinger or with a silver spoon.
The grains of sterlet caviar have a diameter of about 2.5 mm. It is black or gray-black in color and has a thin outer membrane. Sterlet caviar tastes of the sea, but the flavor is not as strong as that of oxetra. Leaves a fishy aftertaste. Sterlet caviar is much cheaper than beluga or ossetra, so it's worth taking a closer look at it.
5. Kaluga caviar
Buckwheat pancake with caluga caviar, poached egg and Roman and dandelion sauce.
Kaluga caviar comes from a hybrid of beluga and oxetra. This is one of the largest fish in the sturgeon family and can weigh up to 1,000 kg. The taste of kaluga caviar is similar to beluga - "walnuts with cream". The diameter of the grains is 2-3 mm. They are dark gray in color, sometimes with a green tinge.