Only to be served to royalty back in the day, caviar is an exquisite luxury that will melt on your tongue, taking your taste buds on a salty journey back to the ocean. Enjoyed by many, caviar is one of the most expensive foods found around the globe, selling for up to $35,000 per kilogram.
Caviar comes from the species known as sturgeon, which has been around for more than 250 million years. Due to the long and complicated history of caviar, many people think it's the same thing as fish eggs, but this isn't the case.
If you're new to the caviar lifestyle, you may have done a little research and might be wondering what differentiates caviar vs. roe. This is a common question since the terms caviar and roe both refer to fish eggs. We're here to clear up this confusion once and for all. Discover the differences between caviar and roe.
Caviar vs. Roe: What Is the Difference?
Simply put, caviar is a type of fish roe, but not every type of fish roe is caviar. This distinction ultimately lies in the type of marine animal the egg was harvested from.
To be considered true caviar, the roe must come from sturgeon, or fish of the Acipenseridae family. The unfertilized sturgeon eggs are still considered roe until they're salt-cured, at which point it becomes a delicacy known as caviar.
Many restaurants will attempt to label any fish roe — like salmon eggs — and roe alternatives as caviar, but don’t let this fool you. Just like how a true glass of champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, true caviar only comes from the roe of a sturgeon.
Here are some other differences between roe and caviar.
To market sturgeon as caviar, it must undergo a salt treatment known as malossol — a Russian term that translates to “little salt” — which helps extend its shelf life. Alternatively, roe can include various types of seasoning.
Sturgeon caviar almost always comes from the Caspian Sea and Black Sea regions near Russia and Iran. Meanwhile, other types of roe are found in a variety of locations around the world.
Now that we've covered these main differences, let's explore fish roe, sturgeon and caviar more in detail to give you a clearer idea of each one.
What Is Fish Roe?
Fish roe is a term for female fish eggs. It can come from trout, mackerel, salmon and other fish. Many people wonder, are fish eggs good for you? Fish eggs have grown in popularity as they are loaded with body-nourishing nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12, just to name a few. However, fish roe is high in cholesterol, so those watching their salt intake should be wary.
Also featured in many flavorful recipes, fish roe is an affordable option for those looking to incorporate something similar to caviar into their diet. When fish roe is sold in the U.S., it must properly identify the species of fish from where the roe was harvested.
What Is a Sturgeon?
A sturgeon is a fish that dates back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. These fish can live up to 100 years with the ability to grow over 1,000 pounds.
Sturgeons come from the Acipenseridae family, found mainly in the following areas:
- Black Sea
- Caspian Sea
- Parts of the Pacific Northwest
- South Atlantic regions of North America
- Large European lakes and rivers
There are 27 different species of sturgeon, with 18 listed as endangered due to the overharvesting of roe for caviar. Here are some of the most common types of sturgeon used for caviar:
- Beluga: Considered the world's most prestigious caviar, it's illegal to obtain Beluga pearls in the United States. The fish must be sourced from regions of the Caspian Sea or Amur River. Beluga caviar is known for its buttery and smooth texture, glistening gray pearls and a clean finish.
- Osetra: Characterized by fine, medium-sized grains that range in color from golden to brown, Osetra caviar has a rich, nutty flavor.
- Kaluga: With a taste that resembles Beluga, Kaluga caviar is a great way to enjoy quality pearls legally. Its hint of saltiness paired with a smooth texture makes it a favorite among many.
- Sevruga: Composed of small, delicate eggs with a gray or black color, Sevruga caviar has a perfectly firm texture and intense flavor.
What Is Caviar?
Caviar isn't just the roe you find on top of your sushi or appetizer in a restaurant. It's a heavenly treat and luxurious delicacy around the world.
Roe can come from any fish in the ocean, while caviar comes exclusively from sturgeon eggs. Caviar is delicately salted and prepared using the malossol method.
Try Quality Caviar From Imperia Caviar
We hope you've enjoyed learning about the differences between roe and caviar. Consider trying some caviar for yourself to see if you can detect these differences in quality and flavor.
With Imperia Caviar, you don't have to break the bank to enjoy excellent caviar. Whether you're looking for a rich Royal Osetra or a buttery Kaluga Hybrid Reserve, our delicious caviar can satisfy your craving for a savory gourmet treat.
With its hint of ocean salt and the iconic “pop” from each bite, you'll truly understand why caviar is such a delicacy. To experience this unique culinary delight, browse our premium caviar selection and order yours today!
Last Updated 8/18/22