Caviar is rare commodity particularly appreciated by lovers of gourmet cuisine.
The origins of caviar
Originally, caviar is an Iranien product. But the production of wild caviar rapidly increased around the Caspian Sea in Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaidjan.
This expensive product was very interesting for sturgeon fishers who doubled in numbers. But this led to the death of many female sturgeons. Indeed, sturgeon must be killed in order to collect their prized eggs hich in the process made the species nearly extinct. For this reason, fishing quotas were imposed limiting today the fishing of wild sturgeon. The fishing quotas are governed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which determines the volumes and prices of caviar for every country.
The different types of caviar: sevruga, oscietre, baeri…beluga
There are three types of caviar.
– The oscietre: These sturgeons produce the widest range of eggs. These middle sized eggs fade from dark golden to a pale amber as the fishes age and tend to have a subtle walnut flavour.
– The sevruga: These are the smallest sturgeons whose grey-black eggs are fine grained. They are distinctively salty and whilst the sevruga is the least expensive kind of caviar it is highly sought after for its unique flavour.
– The beluga: These largeand extremely rare sturgeons make the largest eggs. Light grey to nearly black with delicately fishy flavour, it is the most expensive caviar.
For fifteen years now, Europe has seen an increase in its production of farmed caviar. It comes from a species of sturgeon called the Baeri caviar. Enormous quantities are produced especially in the south of France. Whilst it did not taste very good at the beginning, over time it has become a delectable prize and has managed to make a name for itself.
Good caviar and cheap do not work well together. If you do happen to buy cheap caviar be prepared for disappointment. Indeed, they will often be tasteless or inadequately stored and a possible danger to your health. In other cases, it will be counterfeit caviar.
How to eat caviar?
Caviar should never be served on steel or stainless steel cutlery as this may change the taste of the caviar. It might make it bitter or metallic. To preserve the taste one must use ivory or pearl cutlery.
Then open the can 15 to 20 minutes before eating it and refrigerate it until you are ready to eat. Caviar should be served chilled, never at room temperature. Some will taste caviar on blinis covered in cream. However caviar enthusiastes will eat directly from the spoon. Of course, caviar should be eaten in smaller amounts than a tablespoon as required by traditional etiquette but also to savour the flavour and texture. Others will put a small amount on their hand between the index and thumb which brings out the flavour.
To accompany caviar, wine is ill-advised or maybe with a very good quality white wine from Bourgogne. It can also be accompanied by champagne or like the Russians…with vodka!
Plan for 1 to 2 ounces of caviar per head and Bon Appetit !