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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Black Pearls
Posting looks like it will be slow this week, so I dug through our archives from a year ago and found a very nice submission by Oven that you may have missed. There's a lot of good old stuff on ice in our archives, and now that we actually have 3 or 4 readers, we may rerun them for your amusement.


Black Pearls

This holiday season, treat your honey (or yourself) to an ounce of caviar. It's the most expensive snack you'll ever have. Real caviar is the roe of sturgeon, although other fish eggs can be sold as caviar in the U.S. so long as the name of the fish comes first (e.g. salmon caviar).

Caviar is delicate stuff, and it does not keep well, so it must be processed carefully but quickly. You start with a pregnant sturgeon. Then you bash it on the head to stun it (killing the sturgeon would speed the deterioration of the roe). Then you remove the roe sac, strain out the individual eggs, clean the eggs with very cold water and then dry them. Then a caviar expert steps in to judge the size, smell, taste, and texture of the eggs. Most importantly, he (find me a woman that does this) determines how much salt to be added. The finest caviar is malossol, a Russian word that means "low salt."

Caviar must be kept refrigerated and it will only last a few weeks. You don't want to freeze caviar because the eggs might burst. Once the container is opened, you better finish it.

At the Bristol Farms near my home, you can get an ounce of Beluga for $105. Beluga is the largest kind of sturgeon and it produces the largest eggs - dark gray eggs with a mild buttery taste. This is considered the best caviar and it is increasingly more difficult to come by as the beluga sturgeon population (located mostly in the Caspian Sea) has been decimated over the last 20 years. My first experience with caviar was beluga served at the reception following my wife's boss' wedding.

You can get an ounce of Sevruga for $70. Sevruga is the smallest sturgeon with the smallest eggs. It has a strong taste (less subtle = less expensive) and it was served atop hors d'oeuvres at my company's Christmas party this past Friday.

The in-between caviar is Ossetra and you can get an ounce for $80. It comes from a medium-sized sturgeon and it has a stronger taste than Beluga, but less strong than Sevruga. I bought an ounce of this for my wife two Christmases ago because they were out of Beluga, and she didn't like it. This is one of my top three "Great Gift Ideas that Totally Backfired." Moral of the story: try it before you buy it, because caviar is not for everyone.

For those of you that care, a quick search of the Internet reveals that - yes - there is kosher caviar. I was initially unsure of this, given the unusual method by which caviar is processed.

Bon apetit.
- served up by Oven
Oh, how I love caviar. Or I did. Until you mentioned the thing about "bashing" it over the head. :(
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