Caviar is considered one of the finest delicacies in the world, but is it raw or cooked?
Caviar is never cooked, but it is cured. This is a form of preservation that does add a little flavor to the caviar and allows it to be stored for longer. While some fish ‘roe’ must be cooked, true caviar is served and eaten raw, every time.
Read on to learn more about caviar and how it can be prepared.
Caviar is one of those delicacies that many people have heard of, but not many have tried. At its finest point, it’s a super-expensive and rare food that commands an extremely high price.
Although the rarity has dropped in recent years owing to farming, caviar is still dramatically expensive. It does depend on where in the world you are and what kind of caviar you’re eating, though.
One article in the Financial Times explains that the global caviar market may be worth as much as half a billion dollars. They detailed costs, highlighting the fact that good caviar was at least one thousand dollars per kilo in the nineties.
Today that cost has skyrocketed to around three thousand dollars per kilo.
Owing to the black, shimmering color of caviar, it’s earned the title ‘Black Gold’ in many places. Basically, it’s fish eggs – but very specific fish eggs.
Otherwise known as ‘roe’, these eggs are taken specifically from sturgeon. They’re then matured, cured, and distributed for consumption.
Caviar has a long and storied history, having been consumed for thousands of years. It originated around the Caspian and Black Seas, where for a very long time it was extremely affordable.
As stocks dried up owing to overfishing, the price and rarity obviously rose exponentially. It was in the late nineties that some types of sturgeon were listed as being dangerously close to extinction.
Sturgeon is an impressive kind of fish. It grows to be considerably large and can live for decades.
When the roe is taken from the sturgeon, the fish are already dead. There are reports of the freshest roe being obtained from living fish, gutted on the spot, but it’s not a common practice.
Regardless of how it’s caught or preserved (usually just a little salt), all caviar is raw. There are some forms of roe from other fish that need to be cooked to be eaten, but not caviar.
It’s usually matured, salted, or cured, then sealed in jars or cans.
Roe Around the World
The most expensive caviar ever produced came from Iran, and was taken from the Caspian Sea. It was known as “Almas”, and it came from the Iranian Beluga, a type of large sturgeon.
This sturgeon was also extremely rare, being albino and at least sixty years of age. This caviar sold for around thirty-five thousand dollars a kilo.
It officially holds a Guinness World Record for the most expensive food in the world.
As we’ve already explained, some roe must be cooked before they can be consumed. For example, the roe of rockfish or perch must be cooked before being eaten.
However, it isn’t just the roe of typical ocean fish that is considered a delicacy. You can also eat the roe of shellfish, like lobsters and scallops.
Officially, only the roe taken from sturgeon can be classed as true caviar.
Another popular roe is that of the various types of salmon. It’s traditionally used in sushi dishes and boasts a unique golden, transparent hue.
While it might be attractive and intriguing to look at, it doesn’t warrant a huge cost. However, like caviar, salmon roe is also supposed to be eaten fresh and totally raw.
Curious About Caviar?
You can sample caviar more or less anywhere in the world, but it might not be the best quality roe. There are offerings in supermarkets that cost just a few dollars, but it’s usually sub-standard farmed caviar.
There are some online outlets that offer the expensive delicacy, but again, it won’t come cheap. One website, caviarpassion.com, sells caviar that starts from around $1600 per kilo.
That price climbs to as much as $4200 per kilo for the rarer Beluga caviar.
Alternatively, you could seek out a restaurant that offers caviar. They’re usually quite prestigious establishments, so be prepared to pay a lofty bill to sample the goodness of the roe.