Do you recall the first time you tried caviar? Was it what you expected? There is a lot of hype surrounding this mystic delicacy and it brings about a lot of questions- hopefully this list can help clarify things.
- Caviar is not as expensive as you think
Of the 26 species of sturgeon, all produce caviar. Different species of sturgeon sexually mature at different rates. In the case of Beluga caviar, it takes the female fish approximately 20 years to mature and produce eggs. As a result, the caviar is large and robust. While other species of sturgeon take less time (ranging from 7-14 years to reach maturity) resulting in smaller egg size. Since most caviar today is sustainably farm-raised, the costs to raise a sturgeon for 20 years, compared to 7 years can vary greatly, allowing for different price ranges of caviar.
- Caviar is one of the oldest delights
Sturgeon are prehistoric fish, said to be over 250 million years old. The eggs from sturgeon (caviar) were consumed during the time of the ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks etc- making it one of the oldest epicurean delights.
- The fish eggs on you Sushi is roe and not caviar!
The brightly-colored fish eggs found on most sushi comes from a variety of fish, capelin (flying fish), trout, salmon, herring, and lumpfish (to name a few). Only true “caviar” comes from sturgeon.
- Caviar is graded similar to how diamonds and pearls are graded (size, color, clarity, consistency)
Size matters- the older the sturgeon, the larger the eggs. Color- like size, the color of the eggs depends on the age of the fish. The color lessens as the fish ages (younger fish produce black eggs, older fish, grey). Clarity- like a fine diamond, the egg’s shiny, outer coating determines freshness- shiny and transparent is best/fresh, dull and murky could mean the caviar was improperly stored. Consistency- like a good set of pearls, the eggs should be consistent in size and color.
- Caviar and alcohol pairing
The ideal pairing with caviar, semi-dry champagnes or sparkling wines, crisp dry white wines, buttery chardonnays, and vodka.
- Caviar is one of the oldest delights
- Caviar is good for you
Caviar is an outstanding source of protein, calcium, and phosphorus. It is loaded with vitamins (vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, C and D) and essential amino acids (arginine, histidine, lysine, isoleucine, and methionine). It is packed with omega-3 fatty acids – which may alleviate symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder; and it has even been prescribed to help with impotence.
- Caviar makes great leftovers
Caviar is cured seafood- so regardless whether it is in a jar or tin- refrigeration is required. Properly refrigerated (ideally at -2C), unopened caviar can be stored for up to sixty days but read the label and check the expiry date. Once opened, Caviar should be consumed within a few days of opening- ensure the caviar is tightly covered. It’s great with scrambled eggs the day after a party, or mixed in with pasta!
- How to serve and eat Caviar
Caviar is traditionally served using a mother-of-pearl spoon. But don’t fret you can use a variety of other utensils such as wood, glass, ceramic, gold, tortoise shell, bone, or plastic- in a pinch at a party you can use crackers to scoop up those delicious eggs. Try to avoid using silver or metal spoons as they will taint or oxidize the taste of the caviar (think how a soda tastes from a can when you first open it).
- Toast points aren’t the only thing on the menu
Not sure what to serve alongside your caviar so guests don’t simply spoon the caviar directly into their mouths? Traditionally, blinis- small mini pancakes- were the go-to vessel of choice, but you can use any number of alternatives including croissants, crackers (the softer the better), cookies, biscuits, flatbread, pita, naan bread, roti, pizza, cucumbers, hamburger buns, and even potato chips. It’s your party- and you’re serving caviar, your guests should be delighted just to have been invited!
- The confusion with Beluga
Beluga caviar comes from a Beluga Sturgeon (Huso Huso) (a fish tied to prehistoric times)- and not a beluga whale (a fun-loving (weirdly white) mammal; known as the canaries of the sea).