For most people, authentic caviar is something that they’ll most likely just read about
or watch in movies featuring Russian royalty eating it daintily with eggs using mother
of pearl spoons. This is because it is one of the epitomes of luxury food that cost
hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a small amount–even costlier per gram
than the most well marbled steak.
Traditionally defined as the salt-cured and non-fertilized roe (eggs) of only wild
sturgeon fish from the Caspian and Black Seas, more accommodating chefs also
consider the product of other fish like as salmon, trout and other species of sturgeon
from other countries and bodies of water. Stricter definitions call these “caviar
substitutes” or have the name of the fish appended to it like salmon caviar.
For the purposes of providing recipes, use substitutes made from salmon or cod roe.
If you can afford the real thing, make sure it’s legally sourced. Caviar is marketed as
a delicacy and is consumed as a garnish in a dish or as a spread on hors d'oeuvres
or accent in seafood dishes. Substitutes are priced more affordably and can be
used in simpler dishes.
Beluga, Sterlet, Ossetra and Sevruga are types of the real McCoys of caviars derived
from the specific fish and sea. Extremely perishable, they can fetch as much as
US$16,000 per kilogram depending on the flavor, size, consistency and color of the
eggs. Beluga is the rarest and most expensive type from sturgeon caught in the
waters of the Caspian Sea bordered by Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and
Azerbaijan. Some of these countries have in recent years either banned or restricted
its production, export and import due to depletion of the fish.
For those fortunate enough to have tasted real beluga in an ultra fancy restaurant or
lavish party, they have sampled the best of the best: esteemed for its soft, large eggs
colored pale silver-gray to black. Gourmets can surely detect the nuances of the
different tastes and flavors of caviar but for the untrained palate, they’ll probably
appreciate the delicate texture like miniscule bubbles that burst in the mouth
releasing a mild sea salty flavor. And the incredibly high price tag.
Some interesting trivia
to know about caviar:
Beluga always comes
in blue tins, Osetra in
yellow tins and Sevruga
in red tins. The US
ceased importation of
Beluga caviar to
numbers of sturgeon in
the Caspian Sea.
Anything real and
acquired nowadays is
most likely illegal or
produced before the
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