The food of Kings, true caviar is only produced by the Sturgeon species of fish, a fish that existed way back in the lower Jurassic period.
Caviar dates back to the fourth century, with the word originating from the Persian word ‘Khaviyar’ which translates to ‘the cake of strength’ – and for good reason. it has one of the highest nutritional profiles of any protein ounce for ounce – so much so, it was mandatory for warriors to feast on caviar before going into battle.
Over fishing and industrialisation has pushed a number of the 27 types of Sturgeon onto the endangered species list. In 2008, CITES (The Convention in Trade of Endangered Species) placed a blanket world wide ban on the harvesting of wild sturgeon, and so the world caviar market is now serviced by aquaculture.
Caviar should only be purchased from a reputable dealer. Always be sure to check the back label: it should only contain Sturgeon roe and salt – preservatives should be avoided. Always ask the providore where the caviar comes from, and if it is fresh or pasteurised.
- Simon Johnson
- Nicholas Seafood
- Steve Costi
- Reef Seafood
Quality caviar should be savoured if not by itself, then with simple accompaniments so as not to disguise its unique flavour. Vodka is the traditional pairing to start a tasting, and works well with Blanc de Blanc Champagne to follow.
The perfect caviar is taken at the optimum time of ovulation. The caviar should present with a glossy pearl, and a perfect sphere that separates easily. It should have a fresh smell that hints of a salty sea.
Always serve caviar on crushed ice to keep the oils in the pearls relatively solid. For other serving tips, watch our Masterclass video here.
After warming the caviar on the flat part of the hand between the thumb and forefinger, the pearls are licked off and left to settle on the tongue. The best product will melt across the palate when it comes into contact with the warmth of the mouth, and present an initial burst of salt that dissipates quickly to leave a buttery, nutty flavour.
Caviar should be kept in the coldest part of fridge with an ice pack. It should be consumed within 48 hours of opening, but is best enjoyed straight away.
Steer clear of
Caviar that has chemical preservatives (all preservatives that can be used in caviar are illegal in Australia) however these products do make it past customs. Also avoid caviar that has been pasteurised as this process changes the texture and affects the flavour.
Credit: Lisa Downs, caviar ambassador, Simon Johnson, simonjohnson.com