DEFINITION OF CAVIAR
Different sources give slightly different meaning of the caviar.
“Caviar – the roe of the sturgeon and other large fish, pressed and salted and eaten as a relish.”
“Caviar-type products constitute ready-to-consume, separated and salted fish eggs obtained by passing ovaries through screens or otherwise. The egg may further undergo different processes like dyeing, pasteurization, flavoring or pressing.”
Simply put, caviar is salted fish roe (or egg) of any species of fish. In the United States, as long as the species of the fish precedes the word "caviar", it is considered caviar.
But true caviar comes from the waters of the Caspian Sea where the environment is most conducive to producing the finest sturgeon. That means that if the tin or jar you buy says only “caviar” on it, it's processed from the eggs of the sturgeon. Other types of caviar must identify the source of the eggs (whitefish caviar or lumpfish caviar, for example).
VARIETIES OF CAVIAR
Considered to be the better of the three and the most expensive, the Beluga roe comes from the largest of the sturgeon species. Its texture is smooth, with heavy and ripe large eggs, its flavor soft and buttery while sweet and delicate; and with its color varying from silver to black, it is by far the highest quality caviar one can get with the most superior flavor.
The three giants of the sturgeon family – the beluga, the kaluga and the white sturgeon – produce dark gray beads roughly 2-3mm in diameter. The roe of kaluga, which roams the Amur River between Russia and China, is sometimes passed off as beluga caviar because the two are similar.
Color designations range from 000 for the lightest caviar, to 00 for medium- dark caviar, to a 0 for the darkest and most rich-looking caviar.
Sturgeon eggs vary in color, from black to olive green to mustard. Beluga eggs are often grayer than the Russian sturgeon's osetra. The diverse shading is usually a reflection of what the fish ate and how ripe the eggs were when fish was caught.
Like all products of nature, the size and color of the roe may vary from fish to fish and should not be the primary measure of quality. The taste is the correct measure of quality, similar to wine tasting.
Considered second best, the Osetra roe is of medium size. Oddly, it has its die-hard fans swearing by it and preferring it to Beluga with its nutty flavor, oilier and silkier texture melting to the taste. Its color varies from a golden yellow to a darker brownish tone and, as for the Beluga, the lighter the roe the pricier the product.
There are two categories of osetra, the “Osetra” and the much coveted “Imperial” also known as “Golden” also known as “ Royal” osetra.
Although the sevruga sturgeon provides the smallest of the three commonly available caviars, it is not the smallest in the world. But don't worry about that, because even if your preference is for smaller berries, the smallest sturgeon, the sterlet, is so rare that most of the world's most knowledgable and devoted caviar lovers have yet to taste its succulent, tiny golden eggs.
With the producing species reproducing much faster than the other two, the Sevruga roe is available in greater quantities, thus at a more affordable price. This caviar is ideal for the budgeting consumer. The quality elements remain with slight variances in the texture of the roe (crunchier) and its size (smaller egg). The color will vary from olive green to gray color.
Light to dark grey, is highly esteemed due to its large granules (coarse roe) and delicate skin; the lighter it is, the better the quality.
Beluga Prime 000:
Has a rare rich silver tone; Delicate taste and large gray berries.
Large grains; Delicate-skinned; Pearly gray color; Flavorful and succulent grains.
Normal sized grain, dark gray color; Mild buttery flavor.
Dark brown-grey to golden, is stunning. It has a unique clean, crisp, nutty flavor. Many consider it the best tasting caviar of all.
Osetra Imperial Golden:
Most rare; Light golden color; Sweet, crisp, nutty flavor.
Osetra Prime "A":
Large grain, golden brown color; Full nutty flavor.
Royal Osetra Black:
Dark rich color; Low salt and subtle sweetness; Medium size grains.
Dark grey, fine-grained and very popular due to its distinguished smooth, buttery flavor.
American Sturgeon and Paddlefish
Resembles the Sevruga grade of the Caspian Sea .
Glistening black caviar; Beautiful, firm eggs with an intense, sweet, nut-like flavor.
Comparable in size, color and flavor to Russian sevruga caviar.
Small translucent steel to golden-gray eggs; Well separated, lightly coated with oil. Smooth, silky texture.
Similar in characteristics to Osetra caviar.
Salmon Roe ranges from medium to large in size, has golden-orange color and superior taste and quality.
Salmon Roe Canadian:
Canadian salmon roe has very appetizing, large translucent grains that are red-orange in color; It comes from the reddish salmon, which is very popular among the Canadians.
Salmon Roe Alaskan:
Alaskan Salmon roe are from the most prized Keta salmon native to the Pacific Northwest and Alaskan waters; These large grain, red-orange eggs are very mild and succulent in flavor.
Salmon Roe Keta:
Keta is prepared in the traditional Russian style.
Whitefish, Golden Caviar:
Natural golden color. Small and crunchy berries. Mild and very pleasant taste; It is a perfect companion for champagne and cocktails, and increasingly popular with chefs, coast to coast.
Bowfin, better known by its Cajun name "Choupique" is not related to, but is even more ancient than the sturgeons. This bony fish yields a black roe with a distinctive lively flavor and makes a good, less expensive substitute for sturgeon caviar. Bowfin Caviar is firm and shiny with natural black eggs resembling sturgeon caviar. Clean and nicely separated berries have a distinctive, lively flavor.
The primary source of this Caviar is fish from the cold clear waters surrounding Iceland and the North Atlantic. It's available in black, red or yellow.
An alternative to other black Roes
Mildly salted, full- bodied flavor with deep orange color.
Orange red color and a spicy flavor
Flavored with Japanese green mustard