Caviar is one of the worlds oldest delicacies. Before raw oysters, before Champagne, before even truffles were deemed a delicacy, caviar was coveted by kings and the aristocracy. Ancient Greeks, Romans and Russian tsars were all known to splurge on caviar.
Caviar is fish roe or eggs, sieved to remove fatty tissues and membrane, and lightly salted with non-iodized salt. This is an old preserving and curing method that is still effective today.
Image from www.caviarofswitzerlandshop.com
Of course, all female fish lay eggs to reproduce, so they all have roe but not all fish roe is suitable for nor considered to be caviar. By most definitions and to a purist, true caviar comes from the sturgeon and the sturgeon alone. The most prized caviar comes from the beluga, osetra, and sevruga varieties of sturgeon. Nowadays you will also find caviar from other fish varieties, including salmon, lumpfish and tuna, as well as in different forms.
Traditionally, small pieces of buttered toast or blinis, as well as creme fraiche, are the best accompaniments for caviar. However, before he started using molecular profiling, Heston Blumenthal came up with the interesting pairing of caviar and white chocolate by pure experimentation. He knew that a sprinkle of salt on white chocolate would enhance the flavours and temper the sweetness. So he then started combining white chocolate with other salty ingredients like cured duck ham, anchovies and finally caviar which resulted in the perfect combination. “The rich smoothness of the chocolate and the buttery brininess of the caviar melted and melded deliciously in the mouth.” said Chef Blumenthal.
In an interesting article on Food Republic they share 13 things you didn’t know about caviar. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Caviar is judged on its colour, flavour, texture and maturity.
- The finest, most expensive caviars are older, larger eggs that are lighter in colour. Lower quality caviar is younger, with a less intensely fishy flavour, and darker in colour. It’s a good thing, too, for caviar newbies, who are more likely to start on the cheaper, milder stuff.
- Caviar junkies and VIPs will seek out reserve caviar, the rarest and most expensive of all caviars.