Caviar is making a comeback, but why all the fuss?

Caviar is making a comeback, but why all the fuss?

Caviar has long been associated with the monied, and has recently become popular with the TikTok savvy, nouveau riche: in this piece, we explore the flavours and characteristics of different types of caviar.
08 June 23

When discussing caviar, it is important to set a base understanding of what the delicacy actually is: premium caviar, is the roe of the highest quality of sturgeon fish.

In modern times, almost all caviar is as a result of fish farmed specifically for the production of top-quality roe. Although caviar farms can be set up anywhere in the world, the most popular areas for production include the locations close to the Caspian Sea, China, Italy and France.

Once mature, female sturgeon undergo a procedure to extract and harvest the roe. Once harvested, the sturgeon roe or 'eggs' will go through several stages of preparation including removal of the protective membranes, sorting, cleaning, rinsing and salting. The roe is often categorised by size and colour, and broken eggs or unappealing eggs are removed. Salt is added to begin the curing process, helping the caviar pearls maintain optimum flavour and freshness.

Eggs are not considered as caviar until the processing and salting stages are complete.

Of course, roe can be obtained from all kinds of fish, and processed with salt like caviar, but regular fish roe is not considered caviar even if the same or similar processes are followed. Only sturgeon roe that is treated in this way is considered to be caviar.

Do you know how to identify premium caviar?

When buying caviar, there are certain factors that distinguish the best of the best caviar. 

Quality caviar has a slightly salty flavour, and the caviar should not smell 'fishy' or strong. The caviar pearls should be clearly separated, firm and shiny in appearance. The caviar should melt in the mouth, releasing a nut butter-like flavour that flows onto the tongue. Of course, different to other processed roe, caviar is never dyed with artificial colours.

The flavour of caviar can be impacted by several factors including: the species of caviar, the location where the sturgeon is farmed, the quality of the water and the food the sturgeon is fed. Older and more mature sturgeon are said to produce the highest quality and most flavourful types of caviar.

Is caviar good for you?

Although caviar is high in calories, it is also a good source of protein and vitamins. Rich in magnesium, iron, selenium, calcium, caviar is also a source of plenty of Omega-3 amino acids.

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Sevruga Caviar

Harvested from a sturgeon species named Acipenser Stellatus, which are native to both the Caspian and Black Seas, Sevruga caviar is at the same premium level as its other Caspian counterparts, Beluga and Osetra.

Sevruga caviar is characterised by tiny, grey pearls with a firm texture. Caviar lovers will enjoy bursts of salty and semi-sweet juices, as the Sevruga caviar melts on the palate.

Creamy, clean, and silky, Sevruga has a reputation for excellent flavour that is stronger in flavour than other caviar types.

Beluga Caviar

Beluga Caviar

Beluga caviar is often considered to be the highest quality of caviar available on the market.

Known as one of the world's most famous and sophisticated caviars, Beluga caviar is produced by Beluga or Huso Huso sturgeon. These fish often, if not always, reside in the pollution free, Iranian waters of the Caspian Sea. Unfortunately, due to overfishing, the species is on the verge of extinction, which only adds to the rarity of Beluga caviar.

Light grey in colour, these pearls are considered to be quite large, and this is as a result of the size of the Beluga sturgeon fish.

Widely recognised as having the the best taste, caviar connoisseurs describe the flavours of Beluga caviar as being complex, smooth and buttery with a delightful consistency.

Considered some of the rarest fish in the world, Beluga caviar ranges anywhere from $5000 to $15000 per kilo, in price, with the rarest type being the almost white caviar beads harvested from albino Beluga sturgeon. Prices for white Beluga caviar can reach prices of up to $25000 per kilo.

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Osetra Caviar

Osetra, Ossetra, Osietra, Osectra, Oscietra, or Asetra are all spellings used to describe the roe from the Russian Sturgeon.

Since the increase in price of Beluga caviar, and the overall reduction in the population of Beluga, Russian Osetra has become a popular high quality choice for caviar lovers. Russian Osetra caviar is second only to Beluga caviar. 

Harvested from sturgeon species, Acipenser Gueldenstaedtii or more commonly known as Russian Sturgeon, Osetra Caviar ranges in colour from grey/black to golden brown.

The caviar pearls are medium sized and slightly firm in character. Traditionally Osetra caviar can range in flavour from nutty and buttery to slightly fruity, each with a considered burst of sea sentiments.

Each colour brings different flavours, with the most premium being the golden Osetra caviar beads said to have a rich buttery flavour and a creamy texture.

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Kaluga Caviar

Often referred to as 'River Caviar', the Kaluga species live in both fresh and salt water during their lifetime.

Medium to large in size, Kaluga caviar pearls are firm and glossy in appearance. With a rich, creamy flavour, Kaluga caviar is said to have a sticky consistency and buttery mouthfeel, with an earthy flavour, all enveloped in a mildly salty overtone.

It is recommended that Kaluga caviar is enjoyed by itself, so that the diner can enjoy the fully rounded flavour of this prestigious and premium caviar.

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Hackleback Caviar

Native to the lakes and rivers of Illinois and Tennessee, Hackleback sturgeon produce fine grains of caviar with a jet black colour.

These glossy, crisp pearls have a nutty-salty taste with a subtle sweetness and overall have a buttery, mild, and pleasant flavour.

This American caviar appears as a valid rival to the traditional caviar types from the Caspian Sea region. And, is also relatively inexpensive compared to Beluga and Ostera: Hackleback caviar is an affordable and sophisticated choice in caviar.

How do you eat caviar?

There are several ways to eat caviar, usually dependent on the type of caviar you choose.

Of course, enjoy caviar the way you like to, or with the condiments you prefer, but, here are some suggested ways of eating caviar.

A Bump of Caviar: Placed on the back of the hand, a bump of caviar is a small amount that allows the caviar to semi-meet body temperature before it is licked off and enjoyed.

Blinis: The somewhat traditional way of enjoying caviar, is on blinis. Small, savoury pancakes usually topped with smoked salmon and a dollop of creme fraiche.

Chips: The newest craze, which we love, is to eat caviar on ready salted chips. Dip your ready salted chip into a creamy creme fraiche, top with caviar and enjoy.