A taste and texture unlike any other, caviar is a luxury from the sea. While you may have seen caviar in elegant films or on coastal menus, you may be wondering, what is caviar?
Caviar is a type of roe. Roe refers to unfertilized eggs from fish — the most delicious, interesting and elegant fish eggs on Earth. Caviar is commonly served in a dish on top of a bed of crushed ice along with a mother of pearl spoon — a great alternative to metal serving spoons, which are known to damage the taste.
A traditional way to serve caviar is to let people dish it themselves from a platter onto Russian pancakes — or blini — and toast points. These are often accompanied by other toppings such as onion, chives and crème Fraiche.
The Taste of Caviar
If you've never tried it before, you might be curious as to what caviar tastes like. Eating caviar is a unique culinary experience. There are many types of caviar, each with differences in appearance, taste and texture.
All types of caviar have a few common characteristics. Caviar comes from fish, but it does not taste overly “fishy”, and instead has a flavor reminiscent of the ocean. The first flavor wave is salty and briny with a slight fishiness, followed by a short idling taste. This has been described as a richer but similar flavor to raw oysters. The second flavor wave expresses a few seconds after the first transitions into a smooth, bright or nutty lingering flavor. Good caviar tastes fresh and has a richness of flavor that you may not expect. If it tastes too fishy or salty, it’s probably not high quality caviar.
As for texture, caviar is smooth, but not oily. The skin of the roe has slight resistance, some more than others. It often produces a bursting sensation in the mouth when rolling the caviar over your tongue. Of course, your teeth do not have taste buds, so we suggest experiencing our caviar like a fine wine, taking in the odor and appreciating the texture, juice and taste of caviar as you roll it over your tongue instead of taking a bite.
Is Caviar Salty?
You'll find that most caviar will have a slight saltiness accompanied by a mild fishy taste. As expected, the taste of caviar tends to resemble ocean water. Besides a mild and fresh taste, quality caviar will also have an unexpected buttery richness that delights the tastebuds.
Why Does Some Caviar Taste Different Than Others?
Flavor profiles can vary by type of caviar. To be considered “true caviar,” the fish roe must come from the sturgeon family. Various factors influence how caviar tastes, such as:
- Where the fish comes from.
- The quality of the water.
- The food the fish eats.
- The fish's age — older sturgeon tend to produce the best caviar.
Read on to learn more about the different types and colors of caviar and their unique flavors.
The Unique Taste of Each Type of Caviar
Some main types of caviar derived from sturgeon species are Beluga, Osetra, Sevruga, Sterlet and Kaluga. Let's explore the unique tastes of each type.
1. Beluga Caviar
Beluga sturgeon is considered one of the most exquisite caviar varieties. With a soft, clear and glossy facade ranging in color from light silver-gray to black, Beluga is particularly creamy in texture. It is found primarily in the Caspian Sea between Russia and Iran but is no longer legal to import into the United States. This is largely due to the animal's endangered status from being overfished.
A rare form of Iranian Beluga, Almas caviar is produced from white sturgeon between 60-100 years old swimming only in the southern Caspian Sea. This is the most expensive caviar type, sometimes selling for over $35,000 per kilogram. Rather than a salty and fishy taste, it has an intense creaminess and nuttiness with a long finish.
2. Ossetra Caviar
Ossetra sturgeon eggs are medium-sized firm grains that vary in color from golden to jade to brown. They have a rich, nutty flavor.
3. Kaluga Caviar
Kaluga caviar — known colloquially as “river Beluga” — is particularly similar to Beluga. They both have a creamy, smooth and buttery texture with a firm bursting sensation, making them favorites for many.
4. Sterlet Caviar
Sterlet caviar is smaller than Sevruga, appears light to dark grey and is also known for its intense, buttery flavor.
5. Sevruga Caviar
Sevruga ranges from light gray to black and offers a buttery taste similar to Beluga, perhaps happily complicated by intense tastes of the ocean. Sevruga has smaller eggs than Beluga and Ossetra but is more abundant.
How Does the Taste of Caviar Differ by Color?
Caviar comes in a wide variety of colors. Black, red, white, silver — even gold caviar! Fish roe that comes from a sturgeon is typically classified as black caviar since these eggs take on a darker color. Meanwhile, orange, red and yellow fish roe often come from salmon, whitefish or trout. These fall into the “red caviar” category despite not meeting the technical definition of caviar.
There's also white caviar, which is derived from the processed or fresh eggs of land snails. It's also referred to as “snail caviar,” “escargot pearls” or “escargot caviar.”
In general, many people describe all caviar as tasting like the ocean, but each color has its own flavor characteristics. We'll compare their distinctive flavor profiles below:
- Black caviar: Black caviar, or sturgeon roe, tends to have buttery, nutty, sweet and salty notes all in one. While it's delectable on its own, traditional black caviar accompanies a variety of foods like eggs, potatoes and bread.
- Red caviar: Red caviar, like salmon roe or tobiko, typically has a slightly fishy and salty taste. Salmon caviar is commonly spread over lightly buttered toast, unsalted crackers and blini.
- White caviar: Snail eggs are known for their milky-white, opaque color. They have a unique earthy flavor rather than a fishy taste, almost resembling hints of mushrooms and moss. White caviar may require a few tastes to fully appreciate its flavor, but when you do, you'll find it not only makes dishes tasty but also aesthetically pleasing.
Try the Taste of Caviar for Yourself
While these are the common tastes associated with different varieties, the only real way to determine flavor is to taste caviar for yourself. Whether it's enjoying caviar on its own or using it for some tasty appetizers, ordering fresh caviar online is easier than ever with Imperia Caviar.
Many people shy away from trying caviar because they think of it as exclusive and costly — a splurge to only be tried once in a blue moon like truffles or champagne. While it's true that the expense and availability of good caviar are governed by supply and demand relationships, Imperia Caviar is at the forefront of a progressive culinary movement to make food luxuries accessible, ethical and affordable.
From our point of view, caviar can be a modern, delicious stable foodstuff enjoyed by food lovers worldwide. To experience these delectable flavors for yourself, browse our premium caviar selection and order yours today!
Last Updated May 31, 2023