What is the taste of caviar? How does it feel to have the salted roe slide under your tongue?
Is it good because it is expensive? Maybe it is really that good by itself and the price has nothing to do with it.
This is the most asked question about caviar!
The cloud of mystery and prestige that envelopes the famous food of the aristocracy and the fact that it is not readily available is the biggest reason behind this situation.
Of course there is a short answer and then there is a little longer one.
Ok, so the short answer to what is the taste of caviar would be really stupid and really simple.
I am sorry, but no words, however brilliantly put together, could answer that question. Imagine explaining to a blind person what the color red is. Think of it.
Wait, hold it, don’t go. Remember, there is still that longer answer.
If you don’t have this ancient delicacy right now in the reach of you hand please read on as I will try to give you the fullest and most complete answer possible.
THE STORY BEGGINS WITH FISH EGGS
When I was little my mother used to make amazing fish stew. Sometimes she would add roe of some freshwater fish, I think it was some sort of catfish. Anyway, I remember that the taste was bland and you can probably guess, slightly fishy.
Fish eggs were and still are a part of humanity’s cuisine. Dating back to the prehistoric times, people fished and used roe as part of their diet. While some roe can be eaten raw, others must be cooked.
Caviar is never ever cooked, or at least it shouldn’t be, and the taste of catfish roe in that stew was nowhere near it.
WHAT IS CAVIAR
To understand how caviar tastes we first must remember what caviar is.
Simply put, caviar are fish eggs that have been harvested, washed with water, salted and packaged. In essence they are raw fish eggs treated with salt. These fish eggs that are called roe come from one, and only one type of fish and that is the Sturgeon.
This is a precise definition of caviar. There is also a thing going on among the purists of caviar. They say that it only from the Sturgeon from the Caspian basin.
This is important because there are other types of fish roe harvested in the same way. They are also labeled as caviar, and sold like that, except that on the tins there is the name of the fish before the word caviar.
The most famous representative of this group is the Salmon Caviar or Red Caviar or more precisely Salmon Roe. These alternatives taste different then “true caviar” but not in a bad way. They simply have a slightly different taste.
Now that we know what caviar is let’s brake our first myth perfectly described in my friends’ sentence:
“To try what? Fish eggs? No way, I would rather have a steak!”
To be honest, nobody can say no to a good steak, but this is exactly what swims through someone’s mind when they think of caviar.
Maybe if we try unsalted roe of some muddy fish, maybe then we would pass and go for the steak, or burger or anything else.
The trick is, you can’t make caviar or its alternatives from whatever fish.
As mentioned before true caviar comes only from the Sturgeon, so when asking about the taste of caviar, the precise answer would be to describe the taste of sturgeon caviar. This caviar is also known as Black Caviar.
Ah, we finally come to the heart of our story.
The two main ingredients for any caviar are fish roe and salt which create two dominant paths in our experience.
Thinking of roe, don’t imagine some smelly fish, think more in the direction of the cool breeze you can sometimes feel on the sea. This is the fresh part of the aroma. The roe is a soft gelatin orb that can pop in your mouth and release the liquids contained inside.
If you tried this in a blind test, after the initial bite you would instinctively know that this is a fish product, but to your surprise it would not be a hard tune but rather an echo. Sturgeons spawn in rivers, but live in the sea, so you would first pick up this watery-fresh feeling.
The second ingredient is salt. There are actually grades of caviar depending on the amount of salt that is added. The finest are labeled Malossol and they have the least amount of salt. Usually between 3% and 5%.
Neither of the two can be dominant, only a perfect golden middle describes a good caviar. It should not be too salty nor should you smell the fish in an excessive way.
The “fish” part should only be felt like an echo of the waters form where the roe comes and indeed this pleasant and seductive freshness is what makes the caviar special.
The third component of the taste is most often described as buttery or perhaps even nutty. It is actually the consistency that butter and caviar have in common. The nutty flavor can indeed crawl behind.
When you try it you will understand why the shorter answer was better.
Apart from the taste, the texture, size and firmness play an equally important role. They also contribute to the overall feeling and experience. I would like to make a quick comparison of the most famous types of caviar.
The eggs go through minimal preparation and eating caviar is really, really coming in close and in touch with nature. Just let that juicy nectar go through your throat while you imagine how the rivers of the Caspian basin fall into the vast Sea.
Some advice, close your eyes and let yourself sail through the experience. Try to feel the energy of life that is being channeled.
All of this is achieved with just two ingredients, salt and Sturgeon roe.
The taste is bland, smooth, and there is this buttery aroma that can’t be further described with words.
As wild Beluga across the world is nearly extinct, it is prohibited to sell and distribute its caviar. Luckily there are farmed-raised beluga Sturgeons, raised in pristine conditions. There are also hybrids of beluga and other Sturgeons. These efforts contribute to wild beluga conservation.
As there are many varieties, you can take a peak here and check some beluga caviar types obtained by Bond Caviar. It’s a free world out there, and yes, you have more options, but these would be my warm recommendations.
The taste is different than from the Beluga, it is nuttier, even margining with a subtle flavor of hazelnuts. There is still that dominant taste of freshness but now with an added tone of fruitiness.
The thing about Osetra is its potential for adaptation. As it adapts to new environments the taste can subtly change and thus create a wide range of flavors.
Unlike the Osetra and Beluga Caviar that melt in your mouth the Sevruga has slighted crack that releases a very unique flavor. It is often described that the Sevruga has the crunchiest texture and the strongest flavor, more briny that the other two.
An honorable place among the “alternatives” should belong to Salmon Roe the most known roe that goes through similar method of preparation.
The eggs vary in size from the tiny sockeye roe to the large chum roe.
Salmon caviar is larger, juicier, and much saltier than other caviars. It is considered as kosher food because the salmon fish has scales.
The taste is a sweetly-salty salmon flavor.
There is still quite a lot that can be said about many hundreds of varieties of caviar. There are other fish that don’t belong to the Sturgeon family and which roe is used in a similar fashion.
It’s really a vast world out there, or should I say vast sea, so arm yourself with your favorite caviar spoon and hit it. There is no better way to learn than by experience.
Here, let me give you a starting point for your exploration. You can visit Bond Caviar as they have obtained the finest and yet affordable collection of most known and popular caviars. You won’t find thousand alternatives that could leave you nowhere, only the best.