Black caviar is such an exquisite delicacy that it is customary to serve it on the table on special occasions. It is not surprising that there are certain rules of gastronomic etiquette and recommendations how to eat black caviar, how to serve it on the table and with which products to combine it. We shall tell you about the different types of black caviar, how to choose it, what you need to know about serving and the drinks that go with it. In addition, we will look at the nutritional and health benefits of caviar.
What do you need to know about black caviar?
Black caviar is a delicacy associated with a beautiful life, the world standard of well-being. At all times, the product has been a universally recognized symbol of exceptional luxury. Leaving this aside, caviar is exceptionally beneficial with high content of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Black caviar is a unique product containing a lot of vitamins -A, B1, B2, B6, B9, B12, C, E, D – and minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, etc. The black gold strengthens the immune system, prolongs life, gives energy and vitality. It is also rich in in lecithin, sodium, iodine, amino acids, potassium, zinc, including aspartic and glutamine, omega-3, omega-6, beneficial animal fats that do not form cholesterol, etc. Caviar is considered as a product of youth as its compounds slow down aging and stimulates collagen production. Black caviar is famous as a strong aphrodisiac. The amount of mineral compounds and vitamins regulate metabolism and increase sexual desire and capabilities.
Some of the most important health benefits of black caviar are as follows:
supports the immune system;
improves mental activity;
keeps the body in good shape;
stimulates the work of internal organs;
neutralizes the harmful effects of free radicals;
accelerates tissue regeneration;
improves the condition of patients suffering from coronary heart disease;
prevents stroke and anemia;
increases mental capacity;
peoples who often eat caviar have a longer life expectancy.
Despite the many benefits, one needs to know the cons as well.
The main disadvantage of black caviar is the high salt content, which causes problems with blood pressure as well as swelling. This product is not recommended for children, people with high cholesterol in the blood, atherosclerosis and problems with the digestive system.
Another important disadvantage of black caviar is the low ecological compatibility. In recent years, the sturgeon population is rapidly decreasing. This is the main reason why the delicacy is harvested on fish farms.
Sturgeon fishing in the wild is strictly regulated and in some countries it is even prohibited, as it threatens the biodiversity of our planet.
Black caviar – The different varieties
Which fish has black caviar? The term “caviar” is used for the roe of wild sturgeon in the Caspian Sea and Black Sea – Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga caviars. It also refers to the row of other fish species such as salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish, whitefish, or carp. The eggs are glassy and light immediately after catching and tehy get their color after treatment with salt. There are three different types of black caviar.
Beluga is recognized as the rarest, most famous and expensive caviar in the world. Beluga is the largest fish of the sturgeon family, with a quarter of its weight falling on caviar. A distinctive feature of Beluga caviar is the large eggs which are much larger than those of other caviar varieties – the size is about 3.5 mm. The eggs have a dark spot, which is also called “eye”. The other distinctive features of Beluga caviar are the delicate flavor and creamy aroma with a hint of hazelnuts. The color of beluga caviar is gray and it can be of different shades. The lighter the color, the higher the cost of the product. Typically, the label is marked to correspond to a particular shade. For example, light gray caviar is marked with “0000” on the label, dark gray – “0” and the one that has black color is marked with an “X”.
Ossetra caviar is the most common type. The eggs reach an average diameter of about 2,5 millimeters and compared to Beluga, it is not sold so expensive. Eggs have a dark color, from olive to light brown. The taste is rich with a subtle sea flavor. There is a light nutty taste with a deep and soft aftertaste.
Sevruga caviar is the smallest of the three main varieties as it is harvested from the smallest sturgeon species. The color of the eggs is platinum and the taste is very bright with a delicate fruity aroma.
Sterlet caviar is a budget friendly option for those who want to enjoy a delicious and healthy delicacy, but can not afford the more expensive varieties. The color of the eggs is closer to gray than to black. As far as taste characteristics are concerned, they are not as pronounced when compared with the more expensive varieties, which explains the rather low price.
How to choose black caviar?
When you want to choose black caviar you need to pay attention to several criteria. True connoisseurs can recognize the quality of caviar and we shall tell you all that you need to know. The truth is that this is an expensive product and quite often unscrupulous manufacturers offer imitations. Usually, those are pike eggs which taste similar to beluga. Have a good look because in fake caviar all the eggs have the same size. In true caviar, eggs will differ from one another. After all, there are no ideal forms in nature. High-quality black caviar must have a shiny, clear, glossy and smooth surface and must not smell like fish.
Appearance is the first criterion that you need to observe. Depending on the maturity of the roe, its color varies from gray-brown to silver-black, and the size of the grains from small to large. Remember that black caviar is not always black. For example, the color of beluga caviar is silver-gray, the ossetra caviar is dark turquoise and only sevruga caviar has a pure black color. Also, pay attention to the quality of the product. Grains should not be the same size. They must be intact, not dented.
Taste – high quality black caviar has a delicate, slightly salted taste with a creamy-nutty flavor. The texture of the egg is not rubbery but very light. You should not feel the shell on your teeth, only a light, barely tangible elasticity. After tasting it, you must not feel acidic after taste, excessive salinity or bitterness. If you feel any of those, it is most likely that the product is spoiled and you should not consume it.
Smell – High-quality black caviar emits a faint marine flavor. A sharp, strong smell of fish is a sign of a spoiled product or a fake.
Price– You know that black caviar is not cheap. Depending on the variety, the prices vary but if you see a product which is cheap, you can be sure that it is a fake.
Containers – typically, black caviar is sold in glass jars or tin cans. The advantage of buying caviar in a glass jar is that you can immediately see the color and grain size of the caviar and check for oil marks on the walls of the jar. Pay attention to the production date. Under natural conditions, sturgeon fish spawn in July-August. If caviar is packaged in November, then this is not packed fresh. It is good to know that pasteurized caviar can be stored in a glass jar for no more than 12 months. If you buy tin cans, it is more difficult to check the quality. As per experts, it is best if you shake the tin. You should not hear any sound of liquid being in the tin.
If you doubt the quality of the caviar that you purchased, put a few eggs in a glass of water. Nothing will happen if you bought high-quality product. However, in case you see any black traces in the water, it is most likely that you bought colored caviar of some kind of pike-type fish. The worst case scenario is that the eggs dissolve in the water. This would mean that you were sold gelatin capsules. To avoid bitter disappointments, you should not buy caviar tempted by a suspiciously low price.
Finally, we have to say a few words about storage. Caviar can not be frozen. To preserve the best taste, you need to know how to properly store it. Caviar should be stored in a refrigerator at a temperature of -2 to + 2 degrees Celsius. When you want to open the jar, let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes, then open the can and enjoy! Keep in mind that caviar left open for a long time, loses its elasticity and becomes watery. It is advisable to consume the caviar within 2 to 3 days.
How to serve black caviar?
Many top chefs will tell you that black caviar, like wine, should be served in a special manner. There are two traditional ways of serving black caviar – Russian and European. In Europe, caviar is served in a special caviar bowl ─ a large ice tank, where a small glass or crystal bowl with caviar is placed. According to Russian tradition, caviar is also served in a bowl, but without ice and is consumed in portions with special spoons. The difference in the way caviar is served has a logical explanation. Historically, black caviar was always fresh in Russia while it took a long time to transport it to Europe. During transportation, the product loses its freshness and ice and lemon masked the smell of fish.
Another old tradition is to put a small amount of caviar on the outer part of the hand, between the thumb and index finger. It is believed that this product should be eaten from the skin. In fact, this tradition dates back to the times when it was obligatory to try caviar before buying. At that time merchants had only one spoon. In addition, human skin warms the caviar and this allows it to reveal its flavor. High quality black caviar will not leave any smell on the skin.
The most suitable containers for serving caviar are made of mother of pearl or glass. Do not use bowls made of metal, as it distorts the delicate taste of black caviar. If you prefer the European style of serving, place a jar of caviar on ice and wait 20 minutes. This will fully reveal the taste of delicacy.
How to combine black caviar with other products?
Black caviar can be combined with a variety of other products. An experienced chef knows that it is important to combine different tastes in a harmonious way so that ingredients complement each other. You need to choose foods and beverages which will help reveal the unique taste of black caviar. Caviar is best combined with something neutral. Oysters, egg whites, hard cheese, creamy sauces, puff pastry, lemon, pancakes are the best foods that complements the taste of the black gold. Do not combine caviar with fruit. And most importantly, never mix black and red caviar in one dish!
Lightly buttered white bread toasts are most often served alongside black caviar. Savory crackers or thin crispy biscuits are also a good option. Caviar is also often served in tartlets or vol-au-vent. They do not overwhelm the taste of the delicacy and are very convenient for plating. Olives and greens are commonly used as decorations. In Russia black caviar is served with pancakes and sour cream. Spreading caviar on bread with butter appeared later, but both ways are very popular.
Fresh cream (Creme Fraiche) is a good alternative to butter. It has a pleasant, slightly sour taste, without additives and emphasizes the taste of black caviar.
Black caviar and oysters is a luxurious and exquisite combination for gourmands. An open oyster is sprinkled with lemon juice, and a spoon of caviar is placed on top. The ideal accompaniment for such a delicacy will be a glass of sparkling dry wine.
Caviar and boiled eggs, chopped or whole, is also a popular combination. A slice of cucumber and halved hard-boiled quail egg, topped with caviar is a wonderful snack and an exquisite appetizer.
Black caviar and salmon rolls is a popular dish served as an appetizer at festive occasions.
Chopped red onions can be used to highlight the salty taste of black caviar. The tricky part is to use red onions moderately. You need to be extremely careful when serving combination, first because not everybody likes the taste of raw onion, and second – not to spoil the taste of caviar.
Squeezing a few drops of lemon juice on caviar is also very tasty. The sharp taste of citrus perfectly emphasizes the salty taste of caviar.
What to drink with black caviar?
When you choose a drink to serve with black caviar, you need to keep in mind the taste characteristics of both. Russian tradition says “vodka”. Indeed, both products are of Russian origin and they were served together on the table. High quality Russian vodka is not a cheap product. Due to its strength, it is rarely consumed without a snack. It is customary to eat fatty and salty food with vodka as this combination fully reveals its best qualities. The salty taste of caviar is only emphasized by a scorching sip of icy cold pure Russian vodka.
Champagne and black caviar is the European, well French, combination. The natural acidity of champagne organically combines with the silky, salty taste of caviar. Nowadays, there are people who prefer prosecco, which only comes to prove that how to eat black caviar and what to drink with it is a matter of personal taste.
In conclusion, we have to say that black caviar is a refined delicacy appreciated all over the world. It is the star on any holiday table. We gave you the general recommendations how to recognize, choose, serve and eat black caviar which will guarantee that you will get maximum pleasure.