"The pickled roe of sturgeon or other large fish" That is how dictionaries capture the exuberance and luxury of this world-renowned delicacy known otherwise as caviar.
Salty, grainy and flavourful. Proper caviar, which is harvested from sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea, melts in your mouth like butter with a lingering flavour of ocean water. Caviar is called “the ultimate edible” a term coined by French chef Jacques Pépin.
The term caviar did not originate, as is popularly believed, in Russia. Russians call it “Ikra”; Etymologically, it is rooted in the Turkish word “havyar” which is derived from “khavyar” the Persian word for egg.
The sturgeon fish existed on earth 250 million years back. They even outlived the dinosaurs. Currently, we have 20 major species of sturgeon but the world's best caviar is produced from three varieties of sturgeon: Beluga sturgeon (Beluga), Russian sturgeon (Osetra), and Stellate sturgeon (Sevruga). As a delicacy consumed by royals and aristocrats, caviar consumption precedes other gourmet products as a preferred luxury item such as oysters, truffles and champagne.
Caviar should never be frozen, as it will end up mushy. It is best served in a crystal or glass bowl over ice with spoons made of mother of pearl. Silver spoons may alter its taste. If you are a purist, you spoon a little caviar onto the skin between the index finger and thumb and eat it from there.
Caviar is nutritionally dense that was once used as a treatment for depression. It is in fact rich in calcium, phosphorus, protein, selenium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins A, C, D, B6, B12 and B2. It also contains essential amino acids such as lysine, isoleucine and methionine as well as argine and histidine. According to nutritional data, just one tablespoon of this luxury food contains as much as a gram of Omega-3 fatty acids that is beneficial in maintaining heart health.
Fun fact: The highest quality of Beluga caviar is called Almas, which means “diamond” in Russian. It's produced from a rare albino sturgeon that lacks melanin due to a genetic disorder that only affects a few members of the species. It is sold in a 24k gold box, costing around $25,000/kg (2.2lbs).