How to Look Fancy: Caviar for Beginners

Get our tips for serving, eating and knowing your caviar types.

Photo By: Paramount Caviar

Photo By: Beverly Hills Caviar

Photo By: Marcel

Photo By: Matt Taylor-Gross

Photo By: The Jefferson

Photo By: Zuma

Photo By: Paramount Caviar

Photo By: Paramount Caviar

Photo By: Jeff Stafford

Photo By: Paramount Caviar

What Is Caviar?

Caviar may be an acquired taste but for those who have learned to savor its unique qualities from the glistening pearl-shaped fish roe to flavors that can be salty, nutty, buttery and earthy, there is nothing quite like it. Genuine caviar means it is harvested from sturgeon, a prehistoric fish from the family Acipenseridae that dates back to over 200 million years ago. Beluga, Osetra and Sevruga are among the most prized varieties of sturgeon caviar but you will also see other types of roe offered as caviar like lumpfish, trout or salmon (various types pictured from Paramount Caviar) and these are identified as such on the label to distinguish them from sturgeon caviar.

Sustainable Farming Caviar

Delicate in flavor with colors ranging from light to dark gray or black, Beluga caviar is harvested from female sturgeon that can be 15 feet or longer in length and weigh up to 2,000 pounds or more. Unfortunately, overfishing in the Caspian Sea brought an end to legally caught sturgeon in 2005. Today, most sturgeon caviar comes from sustainable farming operations such as these delectable Beluga pearls from Beverly Hills Caviar.

Marcel Restaurant Caviar Sampler

Several restaurants around the U.S. are introducing caviar samplers and dishes showcasing the fish roe for their patrons such as this Classic Ostera offering from Marcel Restaurant in Atlanta (pictured). The accompaniments includes hard-boiled egg yolks and egg whites, minced shallots, creme fraiche, truffle aioli, steak tartare and cottage fries. Less expensive options include a sampler of Steelhead trout roe or Hackleback roe with the same side dishes.

Classic Caviar Pairings at The Pool Lounge

Another variation on serving caviar as an appetizer for sharing is this presentation from The Pool Lounge in New York City which uses Baeri Royal caviar. Chef Rich Torrisi says, "After tasting dozens of caviars, we found Baeri to be a great French caviar. We loved the mild flavor and firm texture." The dish includes "soft-boiled Jidori eggs, potatoes, blinis, creme fraiche and chives which is our favorite way to enjoy caviar. The potatoes are confit in duck fat first and then roasted in the oven."

Poached Egg and Caviar Parfait

One of the more innovation dishes utilizing caviar is this poached egg and caviar parfait offered at The Greenhouse restaurant inside The Jefferson hotel in Washington D.C. Russian Imperial Ossetra caviar, which has a silky texture and earthy-nut flavor, creates a wonderful flavor sensation when served with hollandaise sauce, avocado, creme fraiche and toast.

Champagne and Caviar at Zuma

When most people think of caviar they probably visualize it being served with champagne. That might seem like a cliche but it really is the way some caviar connoisseurs prefer to enjoy it. Zuma Restaurant in Miami likes to pair Sturia Oscietra Grand Cru caviar with Krug Grand Cuvee champagne because the bubbly beverage has "notes of marine flavors with a touch of dried fruit" that is the perfect compliment to the fish eggs. Other accompaniments include tofu with smoked sea salt, house-made nori rice and matcha crackers, truffle soboro and crispy rice pearls.

Nutritional Information on Caviar

In terms of nutrition, caviar is rich in calcium and phosphorus as well as magnesium, Vitamins B12 and B6 and other minerals. It is also high in sodium and cholesterol but an appetizer-sized serving is rich enough to satisfy most people. For those who want to explore their options, there are numerous caviar distributors in the U.S. which specialize in a wide range of fish roe varieties like Paramount Caviar which offers imported farmed caviar like Imperial Golden Hybrid (pictured), domestic wild caviar like California white sturgeon and specialty roe like salmon gravlax roe.

Caviar Accompaniment Suggestions

When serving caviar at home, keep it simple. In order to savor the delicate, rich and briny flavors, it is best to avoid pairing the roe with something that can overwhelm or minimize the flavor such as red wine or using caviar as an ingredient in a pizza. Instead, try something fresh but mild in flavor like cucumber (pictured with trout roe), unsalted crackers or minced onion. Chilled vodka is also an excellent chaser.

Black Lumpfish Caviar on Baked Potato

Genuine caviar can be very expensive but you can find varieties of fish roe that are quite affordable and delicious such as black lumpfish caviar which transforms a simple baked potato into a rare delicacy. A little sour cream and butter is optional but you don’t need any salt because the briny flavor of the lumpfish provides that desired seasoning.

Serving Caviar

When serving caviar, avoid using silver or metallic spoons which can actually affect the flavor in adverse ways. Pearl, bone, glass or even wooden spoons are preferable. Of course, if you have a spoon that is gold (an inert metal), that is the fanciest way to go.

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