Even the dictionary definition of caviar doesn't do it any justice. Described simply as "the pickled roe of sturgeon or other large fish" these words fail to capture the exuberance and luxury behind this world-renowned delicacy.
Salty, grainy and flavorful, proper caviar, which is harvested from sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea, melts in your mouth like butter with a lingering flavor of ocean water, according to experts.
So what's the history behind this beloved and expensive delicacy? Here are some fun facts we unearthed with the help of Caviar Guide and KnowFood:
Is Caviar Russian?
Did you know the word caviar is not Russian? Russians call it ikra but the word itselfhails from the Turkish havyar which comes from khayah, the Persian word for egg.
How old is Caviar?
The oldest written account of caviar dates back to the 1240s during the epoch of Mongol ruler Batu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan.
Where is Caviar produced?
Most of the world's caviar is produced in the Caspian Sea, which is bordered by Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran.
Who produces Caviar?
The people who make caviar are called Ikrjanschik. Before making it they must undergo an apprenticeship that lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 years.
Variety of Caviar
The world's best caviar is produced from three varieties of sturgeon: Beluga sturgeon (Beluga), Russian sturgeon (Osetra), and Stellate sturgeon (Sevruga).
What colors does caviar have?
Real caviar ranges in color from light to dark gray and yellow-gray to brown-black. Red 'caviar' doesn't come from sturgeon, it is actually salmon roe.
How to serve Caviar?
Serving caviar with silver utensils is a sin, as the metal adversely affects the flavor of this delicacy, Instead, use spoons made with mother of pearl.
Most expensive Caviar?
The highest quality of Beluga caviar is called Almas, which means “diamond” in Russian. It is sold only by London’s Caviar House and is packaged in a round, 24 karat gold box, costing around 40,000 euros per kilo.
Caviar nutritional properties
Although it is high in sodium and cholesterol, caviar is rich in calcium and phosphorus, as well as protein, selenium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins B12 and B6.
How to preserve Caviar?
Caviar should never be frozen, as it will end up mushy. It is best served in a crystal or glass bowl over ice.