Caviar and Its Varieties
Caviar is synonymous with the rich and famous. A very expensive delicacy a favorite appetizer by wealthy people caviar has earned its place in terms of status symbol. It was the Persians who first discovered and harvested caviars from the deep sea of Caspian way back the Middle Ages. When caviar reached the shores of Europe it was King Edward who made a decree that caviar is only for the royalties and that started the association of this delicacy with rich and opulent people.
What is Caviar?
An ancient gourmet delicacy it was known traditionally that caviar refers to the eggs or roe that comes from wild sturgeon in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Other countries have their own version of caviar and this could be the roe of other fish varieties like trout, lumpfish, whitefish, steelhead, salmon and other species of sturgeon fish.
Caviars are salted fish roe or eggs that are processed. Caviar prices differ depending on its size, consistency, color, flavor and it could go as high as $8,000 to $16,000 per kilo. A genuine caviar or true gourmet caviar should only come from sturgeon fish specifically the Osetra, Sevruga and Beluga varieties of sturgeons. It is now recorded that all species of sturgeon fish are now on the list of endangered species. Caviar is categorized as a luxury gourmet delicacy and being eaten as a spread or garnish for appetizers.
There are four main types of caviar from the highly prized Beluga to the popular Sevruga. The list below is arranged from the highest quality to the least and pricing is based on its quality.
BOTTARGA or AVGHOTARACHO
The caviar of the South, Bottarga comes from the roe pouch of grey mullet, or sometimes tuna and swordfish. Dried and cured after removing air bubbles by hand massaging, it’s place in sea salt for a few weeks. Once cured it’s coated in beeswax for preservation. Tasting a little like dry anchovies, but only much better. Often served with lemon juice, it can be used as an appetizer or used in pasta and other Greek dishes. In Greece, Bottarga is called Avgotaracho and is retrieved from the Flat Head mullet which is fished from freshwater lakes.
Τhe Beluga caviar is the most expensive of all caviars. The costly price tag on the beluga caviar is due to its very rare species that exclusively swim in the Caspian Sea, which expand to the borders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. The only existing wild caviar production is found in Iran and Azerbaijan. The Beluga caviar is highly coveted for its very soft and very large eggs about the same size of a pea. Its colors range from very pale silver to black. It has an exquisite buttery flavor and there are only less than a hundred Beluga sturgeon fish caught each year.
Τhe Sterlet caviars are small and have golden hues. This variety is also very rare and was once exclusively served for Iranian Shahs, Austrian Emperors and Russian Tsars.
Osetra caviar is medium in size and has gray to brown colors. The Osetra or Ossetra has a nutty and somewhat fruity flavor than Beluga and some prefer this one for its unique taste.
Τhe Sevruga caviar is the lowest quality in the real caviar hierarchy due its small size.
The roe of the Sevruga is dark black to very light gray color. It is more abundant and the least expensive. It also has somewhat the same taste like Beluga a bit buttery but saltier and with a more distinct intense taste.