Caviar is clearly the star of the show on any restaurant menu and takes center stage when introduced among guests at home or as gourmet gifts.
But if you are new to the world of caviar and don’t know where to start, it can be a bit intimidating. There aren’t going to be instructions printed on those ornate labels, after all.
That’s why we’ve assembled a brief guide to caviar accompaniments that will help you learn the ropes of serving this amazing ingredient before you open your first caviar tin.
We will start small with the bare minimum presentation and then build into more complex and creative ways to serve caviar. Follow these steps, and you’ll be the guru that everyone trusts at caviar o’clock! Let’s get into it.
SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE
The best chefs in the industry often say to let the ingredients speak for themselves and spend a lot of their professional careers sourcing quality ingredients once they’ve mastered the foundations of cooking.
You can apply a similar philosophy to caviar. If you’re paying triple digits for a single ounce, you usually don’t need to dress up the caviar with many accouterments or garnishes.
In fact, it’s best to let the natural flavors and textures take the spotlight and enjoy the caviar with minimal distraction.
That’s why very traditional caviar setups are no-frills affairs, relying on just a few scoops of ice and minimal garnishes that have little to no impact on the flavor of the pearls.
As far as beverages go, you’ll want to avoid colorful alcohol and rich red wines, which will mask the caviar’s natural nuances. It’s always preferred to pour a light white wine like Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, or an “extra-brut” Champagne with caviar.
Not much of a wine expert? Ask for a dry white or sparkling wine at the store, and you can’t go wrong with whatever you find. Just remember to keep it cold in the refrigerator until it's time to serve.
If you want to replicate the classic Russian style caviar setup to the letter, serve up some ice-cold vodka and take tiny sips in between scoops. The chilled, neutral spirit is meant to cleanse the palate to perfection and give you the best impression of the caviar.
Finally, the most important rule of caviar is that you must avoid using metal instruments of any kind when serving caviar, as this will impart an unpleasant metallic taste to the fish eggs and may even ruin your implements due to a fast oxidation process.
No matter what type of caviar you serve, from Malossol caviar made with beluga or osetra roe to white sturgeon caviar from the United States, you need to ensure all of your serving pieces are metal-free.
Splurge on a dedicated non-metallic bowl and a mother of pearl spoon to deliver the authentic caviar experience to your guests— it’s worth the investment. Even if you don't have a special caviar spoon, a plastic spoon is better for enjoying caviar than stainless steel or metal utensils.
SIMPLE STARCHES AND DAIRY
Are you eager to experience the world of caviar but not very interested in eating ice-cold sturgeon roe off a spoon with absolutely nothing else to support the flavor? We understand, and there are a ton of great entry-level garnishes to ease you into things.
Before you try any of the fancy pastries you see at the five-star restaurants, start simple with some basic starches and dairy components. This will be a fine introduction to the taste of caviar and help you learn some key points of etiquette as well.
Buttered toast points are arguably the simplest caviar delivery device to start with. All you need are a few slices of store-bought white bread and some knife skills to create clean triangle shapes. Spread a bit of room temperature butter and toast them lightly with a little caviar, and voila!
When done right, these tiny toasts will melt in your mouth along with the caviar and look elegant in any setting. Plus, it’s an easy way to properly portion caviar for a full house of guests.
A step up from toast is a fresh blini and puff pastry, which takes a bit more work but can be accomplished with some basic baking skills.
The blini is a buckwheat Russian pancake (and a caviar classic) that has a circular shape and holds up under larger dollops of creme fraiche with chives or sour cream. Try out puff pastry to ramp things up even more as a canapé.
If you find yourself scrambling to put together a caviar tray, it’s also never a bad idea to load up the plate with unsalted crackers and potato chips. It's still a delicious appetizer, and someone will eat them!
FRUITS AND VEGGIES
If you are trying to steer clear of gluten and dairy, or you just want a more organic accompaniment to your caviar experience, you have a ton of great options to choose from.
Many simple fruits and vegetables can make for excellent caviar partners if you know what to expect and how to prepare each one.
The most commonly paired fruit in the caviar tradition is lemon, which is sliced into small thin wedges and placed around the serving tray for everyone to access.
If you have the beautiful, finest caviar you'll want to show off to your guests, simply serving it with some lemon wedges and a few sprigs of fresh garden herbs will be more than enough to make a good impression.
For the veggie lovers, you can slice cucumbers, avocados, red onion, or even cauliflower into thin strips or circles, then garnish with small scoops of caviar for a very fresh and delicate bite. Egg yolks, egg whites, and quail eggs also pair well with caviar on a veggie platter.
Since many vegetables are virtually flavorless and have beautiful natural textures, they are a low-effort way to make a great impression and add lovely colors to the spread.
MORE COMPLEX CREATIONS
Now that it’s easier than ever before to obtain affordable, quality caviar and roe from sustainable farms, you can start to indulge in some caviar recipes you never thought possible before.
Pasta carbonara uses a silky egg and cheese combo to make a delicate sauce that plays perfectly with caviar and is found on many restaurant menus.
The thinner and lighter the pasta, the better, so seek out angel hair or capellini instead of thick linguine or spaghetti. The goal is to lightly coat the thin strips of pasta with caviar rather than consuming many pearls in one bite.
Several recipes take caviar out of the spotlight and let the unique flavors play more of a secondary role. These recipes are great to introduce the ingredient to some of the picky eaters at the party and make it easy for them to try something new.
For instance, guests with a taste for steak or tuna tartare may be used to the cold, raw, and salty flavors of these classic dishes and would be willing to try a scoop of caviar on top with some convincing.
The light acidity and fat content of tartare is a great partner for leaner caviar pearls, and you can spruce up the aesthetic with some pretty sprouts on top.
When dessert rolls around, you can even scoop a bit of caviar on some white chocolate to indulge your more adventurous guests. It may look strange, but trust us, it’s delicious!
The Perfect Pair
At the end of the day, the best caviar accompaniment will depend largely on your preferences, and everyone will find a unique way of enjoying this delicacy as a result. Of course, the purists and connoisseurs will stick to sturgeon caviar, but these recipes can also be used with other fish roe such as salmon or trout for a delicious dining experience.
Whether you opt for simple crackers and toasts, veggies or eggs, or go all-out on a creamy pasta main course, caviar raises the stakes for flavor and fun.
With so many affordable and elegant caviars on the market, it’s worth experimenting with new and exciting recipes you never thought were possible!
If you can’t get enough caviar info and want even more questions answered, drop us a line on our FAQ page and follow us on social media for some caviar inspiration from the pros.