Did you know that some types of caviar can cost as much as $5,000 a pound? Yeah, it’s true.
And we don’t know about you, but if we’re going to drop five grand on anything, we like to make sure we’re getting our money’s worth. Now, not all caviar is that expensive, but all caviar is quite expensive as a food item. That’s why we put together this guide for how to eat caviar properly.
You wouldn’t eat ribs with a spoon, soup with a fork, or ice cream after it’s completely melted. Every food has a preferred way that gets you the best flavor experience, and that’s true for caviar too.
As a luxury food, caviar is about more than just feeding your hunger. It’s about creating a sensory experience that will allow you to take in all the taste and smell slowly and appreciate every bite.
And if you subscribe to the idea that food is consumed first through the eyes, then through the nose, and finally through the mouth, that means that eating caviar starts with the right presentation.
As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to buy caviar more than a day or two at most before you will serve it. Keep it stored in the chillest area of your refrigerator, but avoid freezing. The worst enemy of caviar is heat, but the second worst is oxygen. Always keep your caviar in a sealed container until it’s ready to be consumed.
Caviar usually comes in tins, and all you really need to do is place the tin on an area of crushed ice and present it with crackers. Your guests will spoon a small amount of caviar onto a cracker and eat it directly. In this sense, caviar is pretty low-maintenance and doesn’t really need anything else. But this leads us to another important point—the spoon.
Caviar is usually served with an ivory, gold-plated, plastic spoon, or mother of pearl. Silver and stainless steel react with the caviar and create an off-flavor.
Blinis are caviar’s traditional serving companion, but you can serve it on toast, light crackers, or even bread. What it’s served with won’t impact that experience all that much. Again, there’s not much more caviar needs, but if you want to serve more accompaniments, sour cream, melted butter, and lemon wedges all work. Resist the urge to do so with Ossetra caviar or other fine caviars since they can stand on their own.
Typically, caviar is served with champagne. After all, one decadent luxury deserves another. But there’s some disagreement about whether champagne helps you enjoy the caviar. Purists will tell you that it’s champagne or nothing. However, vodka is much closer to how traditional caviar was enjoyed.
If you choose vodka, choose a clean and flat vodka that won’t impart any flavor. If you choose Champagne when eating caviar, choose a dry variety. A dry Champagne will complement the buttery and fatty qualities of caviar rather than compete with them.
If you’re in a fine dining setting, which is where you’ll likely eat caviar, there are usually some expectations about how you should eat it. The same doesn’t go when you’re around friends and family, but it’s always nice to maintain some habits no matter what the circumstances.
Some of the most known types of caviar are Beluga, Ossetra caviar, Sterlet, and Kaluga. Incidentally, that list is in order of most to least expensive. And the first question most people ask is whether more expensive caviar is better. The answer is not necessarily. Many factors play into what caviar is good and its availability, so you’ll have to find the one that you like best rather than rely on price points.
Some things to note about caviar when picking it:
If you’re lucky enough to be able to taste your caviar before you purchase it, drink a sip of sparkling water between tastings. That will cleanse your palate and prepare you for the next variety.
Beluga sturgeon from the Caspian sea are typically the poster child for the best caviar. And Russia long carried the distinction of having the best caviar. But that’s no longer necessarily the case. Russian caviar is still excellent, but Chinese sturgeon farms are producing caviar that’s as good or better and doing so at a fraction of the cost.
Caviar is usually rated on a scale of good, better, best, so openly ask your caviar vendor where the caviar you’re buying falls on that scale. As a rule, high-grade fine caviar is never adulterated with other flavored. If you find flavored caviar, you can be certain it’s on the low end of the quality spectrum.
All that aside, though, the most important thing about buying caviar is that you always buy it from a reputable source. You may be able to save some money from shady dealers on or offline, but if cost is your primary concern, you shouldn’t be buying caviar anyway.
Also, remember that there are other types of roe other than sturgeon that are also popular. Nutty bowfin and paddlefish roe are great options, and you will never disappoint your guests by serving them at a gathering.
Now you know enough to avoid feeling like you’re going to mess something up when you’re enjoying caviar. And, at the end of the day, if you’re enjoying the caviar, that’s all that really matters.
If you want to taste some of the best caviar in Miami, reserve a table at Stubborn Seed and join us for dinner any day of the week. We serve the finest royal Siberian Ossetra caviar available, always fresh.
What kind of caviar are you most excited about trying? And, who are you most excited about sharing it with? Let us know in the comments!