Although die-hard purists will always maintain that there is only one true caviar, more modern connoisseurs now concede that there are many other tasty alternatives to the traditional —and pricey— Caspian sturgeon caviars. Nothing will ever replace the smooth buttery flavor of a fine Beluga, but there are many that will come close. Read on to find out how to get the best of both worlds:
Russian Beluga 000 Caviar Malossol
The most luxurious pearl of the Caspian Sea, Russian Beluga caviar is the epitome of culinary sophistication. The Triple Zero “000” denotes the mark of excellence, the lightest color eggs available; ‘Malossol’ speaks of the characteristically minimal salting used to preserve the original flavor of this delicate caviar. Beluga has large, pearlescent eggs, of a light glistening grey, with a fine skin highly prized for its smooth, buttery texture, and a rich and subtle flavor that melts in the mouth, resulting in the most sublime caviar indulgence.
Classic Sevruga Caviar Malossol
Of all the sturgeon species, the sevruga reproduces the quickest, and therefore is much more available, which translates into lower market prices for this delicious caviar. You’ll find that these small and delicate black eggs are a pleasure to bite into, with a crunchy texture. While other caviars dissolve in your mouth, sevruga playfully crackles and pops with a more intense flavor. Malossol indicates this caviar has been very lightly salted to preserve its original flavor.
Russian Classic Grey Sevruga Caviar Malossol
Russian Sevruga Caviar Malossol
Golden Osetra Caviar Malossol
It’s not Beluga, but this is truly the next best thing. Of the higher-end caviars, golden osetra is a strong contender for the title of ‘best caviar in the world’. This rare caviar is worth its golden grains in gold, at prices that rival the best Beluga caviars. While Beluga is smooth, and Sevruga is intense, Golden Osetra’s flavor has hints of nuts and fruits. It is prepared Malossol style, meaning with “little salt”.
Russian Osetra Caviar Malossol
NEW WORLD WONDERS
Many a restaurateur will tell you this is worthy substitute for the pricier sturgeon caviars, especially the pricey sevruga. This is caviar of a quality that enables you to savor it much the same way you enjoy sturgeon caviars, but at a price that blows most other fish out of the water. It looks very much like Caspian Sevruga caviars, with eggs that are small and blackish-grey, but at a third of the cost. This caviar comes in a Malossol version, which means it has been prepared the same way finest sturgeon caviars are, with very little salt to enjoy the most original flavor possible.
American Paddlefish Caviar Malossol
This is another contender when looking to substitute the classic Caspian sturgeon. Hackleback is a surgeon found in Mississippi River, similar to the Sevruga both in the size— very small, firm berries— and texture of its eggs, although the roe is a darker black than the typically grey Caspian Sea caviars. Hackleback sturgeon has the smooth delicate flavor of a sturgeon caviar, but milder and with a little extra nutty punch. You can also find a Malossol grade of this caviar, which means that, like most fine caviars, this one is worthy enough to be prepared and enjoyed with very little salt.
American Hackleback Caviar Malossol
This roe is worth getting for looks alone. Eggs of a beautiful peach color glisten and sparkle as you place them over some fresh blini or sprinkle them over dishes as a garnish. Since it is harvested right here in North America, the prices of salmon caviar are dramatically lower than those of sturgeon. The flavor is very fresh and succulent, and the ripe eggs are prepared with a lot more salt (you won’t find any Malossol salmon caviar). At prices that almost seem a mistake, this is the perfect caviar to cook and experiment with.
Alaskan Salmon Roe Caviar Malossol
Canadian Salmon Roe Caviar Malossol