Beluga Caviar: From the Czars Table to the Kitchen Table

 By: Gavin Ashford
Beluga caviar is the most highly prized of all the types of caviar and is world famous for the size and flavor of its roe. Beluga comes from a variety of sturgeon native to the Caspian Sea, but the variety originating in the Black Sea is considered by many to be the tastiest. The Beluga sturgeon is the largest of all sturgeons and can take up to twenty years to reach maturity. The fish that produce this precious roe can be nearly two thousand pounds by the time they are ready for harvesting. The roe is then quickly removed while the fish has been briefly stunned, just as it has been done for centuries. It is essential that the fish not be unduly harmed during the harvesting, as the flavor of the caviar will then be degraded.

Due to the immense size of the fish, the eggs of the Beluga are the size of small peas. They have a delicate flavor that is slightly sweet with just a touch of acidity. Although many caviar aficionados have their own favorite caviar serving suggestions, Beluga caviar is almost always served without any additives or accompaniment. The roe come in several shimmering shades of black and grey, depending on the age of the fish they are harvested from. The lighter the shade of black, the older the fish, the softer and more subtly flavored is the caviar. The rarest is nearly pure white in color and comes from a hundred year old fish. In Persian this variety is called Almas, which means diamonds. Given the scarcity of Beluga caviar these days, Almas caviar are almost as precious as diamonds

With higher-grade caviar such as Beluga, service should be with a non-metallic spoon to avoid giving the flavor of the roe a metallic tinge. Mother of pearl and bone are typically preferred as the material of choice. The roe should also be kept on ice while being served, to preserve the purity of the favor. When stored, they should be kept in the tin in the coldest part of the fridge, between 26-32 degrees Celsius. Once opened, caviar does have a shelf life of a week or so, provided the eggs are well covered with plastic wrap inside the tin.

Eating Beluga caviar is an unforgettable experience, both for the thrill of partaking of one of the world's most expensive culinary traditions and also for enjoying the texture and flavor of one of nature's most precious resources. Although Beluga caviar is rare, all of us can now enjoy these prizes flavors at a more reasonable price due to the development of sustainable beluga caviar farms. It is possible to buy beluga caviar online or at a specialty store and enjoy it knowing that supporting sustainable caviar will help restore sturgeon populations in the Caspian Sea. Caviar gifts are also available from certain retailers, who are now able to package them with this luxurious sustainable Beluga.
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