Your Unpretentious Guide to Caviar
You’ve decided to skip the crowds this year and stay home and gather your friends for a New Year’s Eve party. But this isn’t going to be an ordinary New Year’s Eve party — there will be caviar. The world of caviar can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on and get ready to turn out a spread that will definitely wow.
First off, what exactly is caviar? Good first question. True black caviar is roe harvested from sturgeon. The caviar we sell is farm-raised in Germany, Poland and California.
What does it look and taste like? Expect a salty flavor with some brininess. When you press the caviar to the roof of your mouth, the smooth beads will pop (so satisfying), and that’s when the full flavor will come out. Depending on the variety you choose, you could get nutty, fishy, rich, buttery, clean or earthy flavors. Black caviar can range from small to large in size (the larger eggs tend to be super creamy, and the petite eggs are more of a texture-driven experience), golden to jet black in color and from soft to firm in texture. More on that — including other colors caviar can be — later.
How much should I buy? Plan for 1 ounce (30 grams) for every 2 people. (Tsar Nicoulai jars are 1 ounce.)
How do I serve it? A few pointers here …
- Keep the caviar in its unopened tin or jar in the coldest part of refrigerator before you’re ready to serve. Caviar doesn’t like heat or oxygen.
- Take the caviar out of the fridge at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour, before serving time. Be sure to keep the caviar in its unopened tin. This will help take the chill off the caviar, so your guest can focus on enjoying its delicate texture and flavor.
- Fill a small dish with ice, nestle the tin into the ice and serve the caviar right out of the tin.
- Traditionally, dainty mother of pearl spoons are used, but you might not have one of those lying around. (However, certain brands, such as Tsar Nicoulai, Caviar & Caviar and Caviar Russe, include one!) You can also use a gold-plated, plastic, glass, bone or shell spoon. But if you have to use stainless steel, the world won’t end.
- Consume the caviar within an hour of opening for the best taste, but if you have leftover, be sure to eat the entire tin within a day.
How do I eat it? If this is your first time trying caviar, don’t be scared to take a decent helping. If you only take a few eggs, they won’t have much impact — to get the full taste of the caviar, allow yourself about a half teaspoon (5 grams). Roll the pearls around on your tongue to feel the smooth texture, then press them against the roof of your mouth to pop out all that flavor. You can serve caviar on blinis, as a topping for eggs, even on potato chips — keep reading for some specific suggestions.
What wine to drink with it: Bright and dry sparkling wines are easiest to drink with caviar (we recommend Jacques Bardelot Brut Champagne or Hattingley Valley Sparkling Wine). Buttery Chardonnays can be fun, too. You can also try pairing it with vodka (We don’t sell it, but still — we recommend it!).
The caviars to know:
From Caviar Russe
Pacific Sturgeon (a.k.a. White Sturgeon)
Color: Grey to charcoal-toned
Taste: From a Northwest Pacific Coast lineage, elegantly mild and buttery with a clean finish. A great place to start for caviar newbies.
Pairing: Add a scoop on top of a simple buttered whole wheat spaghetti and finish with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs.
Size: Medium to large
Taste: Nutty and full-flavored.
Pairing: Spoon over buttery soft scrambled eggs.
Siberian Sturgeon a.k.a. Siberian Osetra
Color: Deep mahogany to black
Taste: Originating from pure Siberian sturgeon stocks with clean, focused flavor.
Pairing: Perfect for potato chips! Caviar works well with their scooped shape and crispy texture.
Caspian Golden Osetra
Size: Medium to large
Taste: From pure bred Caspian Sea Osetra Sturgeon, a complex and refined flavor, delivering exceptional balance and finish. Historically reserved for royalty with a brilliant appearance and rich, abundant flavor. The connoisseur’s choice!
Pairing: Top off deviled eggs with crème fraîche subbed in for the mayonnaise in the yolk mixture.
From Tsar Nicoulai
Color: Deep army green to graphite
Taste: A complex, rich flavor noted for its briny finish. Melts on the palate.
Pairing: Serve on water crackers with slices of daikon radish for fresh crunch.
Color: Jet black
Taste: Rich and clean with a creamy finish.
Pairing: Sprinkle on labneh-topped crispy toasts.
Color: Tawny brown to platinum
Taste: Lingering creamy finish.
Pairing: Swirl into a basic risotto for a decadent special occasion meal.
Size: Medium to large
Color: Glowing golden color
Taste: An extremely rare caviar with mild flavor with a smooth, buttery finish
Pairing: Top off fluffy cottage cheese pancakes (with just a hint of sweetness). The golden color will be pretty dotted over the pancakes, too.