Caviar is a salty dark colored delicacy made of processed and mashed unfertilized sturgeon fish roes (fish eggs and ovaries). This high priced dish made of tiny dark eggs (resembling globules), often considered haute food, is served with champagne or unflavored vodka. Also know as black caviar owing to its color, the caviar may be made from pasteurized or non-pasteurized roes. Caviar recipes made using pasteurized roes are higher in food value and economic worth. As sturgeon roes can be of different varieties, the resultant caviar dishes made from them also vary in quality. The price of caviar depends on its flavorfulness, its color, consistency and its size. The Iranian and Russian cuisines are the top producers of the caviar and the best variety of caviar is believed to be made from the beluga sturgeon. Caviar fish abound the Caspian sea where they are harvested for preparing the delicacy. Caviar by itself, though a simple food, is made for the gourmet appetite and it should be served as such. But, some caviar recipes use it as an ingredient for other dishes. Caviar pies, canapés, pizza, Caviar on Quail eggs, caviar soups and caviar dips are some of the most popular caviar dishes. Caviar and blini with butter or crème Fraiche is a traditional Russian delicacy.
History of Caviar
Caviar has been a Middle Eastern and Eastern European delicacy since the prehistoric times as evidenced by the consumption of the sturgeon roe since these ancient periods. . The original word “ khavyar” from the Turkish cuisine, was popular in English cuisine since the 16th century. Though the major suppliers of caviar today are the Russian and Iranian cuisines, America in the 19th century was a major distributor of this expensive fish dish which was supposedly meant for the royal class. Caviar recipes became popular even with the common Americans who were, surprisingly, served this gourmet food as a part of free meals to enhance the sales of beer, the desire for which seemed to have intensified in humans after the consumption of caviar due to its saltiness.
Ingredients Used In Caviar
Caviar is probably the simplest dish of the gourmet class. It is made with minimum ingredients and all that is required is the fish roe and brine. Moreover, its preparation is also very simple. Caviar recipes range from the simplest to complicated when the fish roe is prepared in combination with other ingredients.
Preparation of Caviar
The simplest recipe of caviar can be tried at home. Fish with egg sacs need to be procured and the eggs removed from the membrane of a sac after slitting it open. This requires some skills as care should be taken not to break it. It is better to do this in a bowl of cold water. The eggs are washed and drained and soaked in a brine solution of common and kosher salts in a refrigerator for an hour or two. The brined caviar is drained off water and eaten as it is. Caviar is, of course, more popular in the processed commercial form.
Caviar is commonly served with vodka or champagne as an accompaniment. It can also be served as an accompaniment dish to boiled or baked potatoes, and scrambled or deviled eggs. The blini or crepes make classic main course dishes to be served with the caviar as an accompaniment. Caviar, when eaten independently, can be garnished with a piece of lime, some hard boiled yolk of egg, or chopped onion. The brine used for preparing the caviar can be concentrated to different extents for different caviar recipes. For example, Taramasula is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that is prepared by salting the caviar to a stronger level than the standard. The eggs are also mashed in this dish. Caviar dishes may also require the roe to be salted to the maximum extent. For example, such a dish is made by concentrating the brine heavily with salt, soaking the caviar in it , draining it, mashing and drying it to a solid form which is high in nutritional worth and can be preserved for a long time.
Types of Preparation of Caviar
- Malossol – This type of caviar, considered the most superior, is lightly salted ( the solution being only 5 % concentrated)
- Salted – this variety considered inferior in quality to the previous category consist of the roe being brined in an 8% salt solution which elps in preserving it but mars the taste.
- Pressed – this is a caviar jam made with mashed very ripe caviar eggs.
- Pasteurized – this is prepared by treating the caviar to heat and preserving it in vacuum jars. However this variety comes with comprised flavor and texture.
Caviar is one of the highly priced fish dishes and its rating is determined by the color of the roe and the method in which it is processed. The lightest caviar is always considered superior and the grading goes down with the darkness of the roe. Taste is surprisingly not a determinant of the price of caviar, but the rareness of the roe is. For those who are more concerned with the taste of the caviar a cheaper variety of caviar may be a better choice than the more expensive but less flavorful variety. Traditionally the light colored sturgeon roe is regarded as the most superior variety for caviar. Beluga – This variety of caviar, considered the most expensive variety of the dish, which is second only to the Sterlet, and one of the rarest, is made up of black to pale gray colored large sized roes which feel creamy to the tongue. Caviars that cost lower than the beluga are osetra and sevruga. Other caviars which are flavorful and also economical are farm , American, Paddlefish, Salmon, bowfin, trout, lumpfish, whitefish, and capelin caviars.
Nutritional Worth of Caviar
It is not without reason that the caviar has attained the status of a highly priced gourmet food. Apart from rarity and flavor, its nutritional worth is a major contributing factor in determining its price. The high vitamin A and D of caviar help in the healthy maintenance of skin, bones and eyes. Caviar is a good source of hemoglobin and is hence recommended for consumption by people suffering from chemotherapy. The high omega-3 fatty acids in the caviar are found to be beneficial in protecting the human cardiovascular system from diseases and also from colon, breast and prostrate cancers. The high magnesium and potassium contents are beneficial in regulating the metabolic activates of the human body and also maintaining optimum levels of blood pressure.