A Food of Decadence
What is known to be the most expensive delicacy in the world that can be found in the deep sea?
The answer? The Beluga Caviar!
Beluga Caviar are roes of a prehistoric fish called the Beluga Sturgeon which is mostly found in the Caspian sea. It can also be found along with other rare
varieties of sturgeons in the Black sea Basin and sometimes in the Adriatic. The classic caviars are supplied by Russia and Iran. The ones from Iran tend to be the one that is most sought after because they are harvested from the southern part of the Caspian sea, which is relatively pollution-free.
With its price, it is considered as a luxury commodity, along with Renault paintings, sports cars and diamonds. At present, the price tag on the Beluga caviar ranges from $250 per kilo to $5000.
It is very important to give a background as to why Beluga is so expensive. First, one must know the fish where these roes came from.
About the sturgeon:
The Sturgeons are one of the oldest survivors of the dinosaur era. These fishes have actually lived for hundreds of years already, and has still retained its appearance. The Beluga is the largest among the breed, and is known as the only predator. It is so rare that only about 100 units are caught in a year. At present, because of illegal fishing and trade, some places have already banned the import of Beluga caviar in order to protect the now endangered species.
This particular sturgeon takes a very long time to reach its maturity – it can take up to 20 years. The eggs from the Beluga sturgeon have a variety of colors, ranging from the lightest of blues to black, the lightest being the more expensive ones since they originated from older fishes. The Caviar usually reaches the market without any additional ingredients, because adding anything can greatly lessen the value of the roes.
The word caviar did not originate from Russia, even though the roes are considered to be a great Russian delicacy. It was introduced in the 16th century in the English lexicon, probably acquired from the Italian and French, which in turn had gotten it from Turkish havyar. In etymological history, khyah is the Persian word for egg.
How are these prized roes prepared? The sturgeons are caught by the use of nets and are kept alive to bring to the fishery laboratory. They are not put to death immediately, instead they are anesthetized and clubbed. The fish are anesthetized by whacking them at a certain spot below the head. It is important the eggs be whisked away while the fish is still alive, because if they do this otherwise, a chemical resulting from death will be put into the eggs, which will make them taste bitter.
How to enjoy Beluga Caviar:
Caviars are not just eaten in the ordinary way. There is a special procedure to serve and consume the roes. Metal spoons cannot be used in eating because metal tends to change the taste of caviar, giving off an undesirable metallic taste. So it is absolutely necessary to use spoons made of bone or mother-of-pearl. Caviars must be served with complimentary foods like potatoes or blini, partnered with creme fraiche or sour cream. Condiments such as pepper, onion, lemon or other herbs can be added, but caviar connoisseurs will recommend that one should refrain from adding those in order to truly appreciate the taste of caviar. It should be served on ice to keep it lower than room temperature, in order to preserve the taste. There are caviar service-sets available in the market to use in presenting the roes, but it can simply be served glass or ceramic jars.
It is extremely important to remember not to freeze caviar, because doing may cause the eggs to burst, which will destroy the most sought after taste. Recommended temperature is 26 to 32 degrees of the coldest part of the refrigerator, not the freezer. It should be stored in its original tin container. Caviar has a shelf life, and once a container is opened, the roes can last for a week and a half. In storing leftover caviar, plastic wrap should be pressed tightly into the surface of the roes inside the tin so that air will not come in. The tin should be turned once or twice a week so that the oils will be distributed.
Tradition tells people to serve caviar with Russian vodka, but it can also be partnered with dry champagne. Chefs nowadays have learned how to incorporate caviar into a variety of dishes that they serve. Common recipes using the roes include Creme de Caviar, Caviar pie, caviar eggs, caviar mold, and caviar spread.
Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Foods that we do not usually eat make us more excited about the idea of eating it. Eating caviar provides such a delicious thrill because of its luxury and exclusivity. For those who can afford it, enjoy and savor the exquisite taste that caviar brings to the senses.