While there may be no other ingredient quite as luxurious as caviar, there is no denying that this delicacy can often be quite confusing, especially with so many different varieties out there. While three species of sturgeon used to supply most of the world’s caviar, overfishing has meant that roe from other varieties of fish have now become popular. For those of you who are not yet quite caviar connoisseurs, this guide will teach you everything that you need to know about this luxurious delicacy.
How to Purchase Caviar
Many people believe that the more expensive a variety of caviar is, the better it will taste, but this is not at all the case. Instead, the price is based on the rarity of the fish that it comes from, and roe from a rarer fish does not necessarily taste better. Top grades of caviar are also usually more mature, and the flavors can often be too much for a beginner to handle. When shopping for caviar, make sure that you taste it before purchasing, and if a particular shop does not allow you to do so, it is worth finding somewhere else to buy caviar from.
Deciding How Much to Purchase
A common mistake made by caviar first-timers is to buy a small, ten-gram tin, but this only allows for a couple of bites and does not allow your palette enough time to adapt to these new flavors. Instead, buy a minimum of thirty grams, as you need to heap around half a teaspoon of the roe onto your tongue at a time in order to fully experience its taste and texture.
How to Store Caviar
Caviar is an extremely perishable ingredient, and for that reason, it needs to be stored in a particular way. While an unopened tin will happily sit in your refrigerator for a few weeks, a tin that has been opened needs to be eaten within three days, after which its flavor will seriously deteriorate. Placing some plastic wrap over the surface of the roe will help to keep oxygen out, before putting the tin in the coldest part of your refrigerator, surrounding it with ice packs if necessary.
When serving caviar that has been in the refrigerator, remove the tin and let it stand for ten minutes at room temperature before serving. Only open the tin at the very last minute, as this ensures maximum freshness. When choosing which accompaniments to serve the caviar with, remember to only choose items that are quite bland in flavor, as you do not want anything competing with, and distracting from, the delicacy of the caviar. Blinis, mini slices of toast, unsalted crackers and sour cream always work well, along with some chilled Russian vodka.
Once you begin to open yourself up to all that caviar offers, there is a whole world out there in terms of texture, flavor and variety that will truly captivate you. From the rarest caviar, known as golden or royal caviar, that comes from the albino osetra sturgeon, to salmon and whitefish caviars that are not really considered true varieties of the ingredient but are still delicious in their own right, there is so much to discover and introduce to your palette, that you will wonder why you never gave caviar a try earlier.