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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Caviar America - Yes We Can

2009 Year of Hope

- Paraphrasing the previous president's response to the latest Financial crisis of 'thinking about lettin' this thing ride out or leavin' it to the... the... the... experts' [to figure out], I respectfully reply, 'nonsense', with the declaration that even in these economically rugged times, there still is an ample abundance of hope.

Somehow, through it all, caviar, along with a number of other indulgences, are experiencing a renewed and active interest. With the recent heavy limitations and bans on the export of the coveted Sturgeon roe of the Caspian Sea basin, new opportunities have arisen to explore the ultimate culinary luxury Stateside, and deservedly so. Although 90% of caviar production has been historically attributed to Russian producers, the US boasts an extensive and flourishing 'caviar' industry, as well as Iran, China and other locations .

Wake Up and Sniff the Bubbly -

Currently there is a ... huge - for lack of a better word, variety of excellent 'caviar', from domestic Sturgeon and other culinary refined, amenable types 'caviar' or roe derived from a variety of fresh water and river based fish. In developing an appreciation for the sumptuous delicacy some of the following types of roe are rather ideal to begin the adventure with:

But first a few basic points on the system of grading and pricing fish roe in America -

Typically the quality and grade of fish roe we casually refer to as 'caviar' is based on its proximity to the characteristics of 'magnanimous three', or true caviar. Overall, caviar is graded by color and size of egg, with the lightest and largest eggs being regarded as most desirable (ie., best) and therefore the most expensive. In the US, specific American caviar is as well based on its similarity to its magnanimous counterparts:

(1) Beluga - Widely considered to be the finest type of true caviar. It comes from the largest Sturgeon, has the largest eggs and is lightest in color, which ranches from pale grey to black. It has a flavor described as a mild and buttery though reminiscent of the sea. Currently only 100 Beluga Sturgeon are caught each year - easily validating the reason its caviar is the most expensive in the world.

(2) Osetra - (also spelled Ossetra, Oscietra, rarely Asestra) Consists of medium-sized eggs, that range in color from dark brown to light grey and even golden brown. Many prefer Osetra's nutty, slightly fruity flavor over Beluga.

(3) Sevruga - Considerably more plentiful, thus less expensive, the Sturgeon produces smaller eggs that are more pungent tasting than Beluga. It ranges in color from light grey to black. Due to its particular flavor trait, Sevruga has a distinct following.

The following are a few initial types well worthy of trial and exploration:

American Sturgeon Caviar - Is from domestic wild or free range Sturgeon. The roe is smaller than Russian varieties and dark black in color. With a mild hint of the deep seas in flavor, it is considered a natural and qualified alternative to Russian caviar.

Paddlefish Caviar - is from a domestic fresh water fish, similar to Sturgeon in size. Paddlefish Caviar has a grey hue and has a resemblance to Russian Sevruga. It is a lovely and 'safe' enhancement for occasions that involve wine tasting or vodka toasting.

American Black Sturgeon Caviar - is derived from the Bowfin fish often in a free range environment. Bowfin Caviar makes an ideal caviar choice for consumers looking to stay within budget and is looking to add a touch of elegance to their palate.

And for Sushi Lovers...

Japanese 'caviar' is highly affordable, had a nearly limiteless range of textures, and is surprisingly tantalizing. It is derived from a number of large fish varieties and comes in a wide range of sizes and colors from cherry red to cool refreshing green. Common types include:

Tobiko - Red Tobiko Caviar is a fine, quality roe derived from 'Flying Fish'. The tiny crackly beads are a favorite in Sushi bars, Japanese restaurants. specialty and Asian Markets.

Ikura - is one of the most familiar types of fish roe to most people. It is the large Salmon eggs that brings to images of Dad's fishing tackle box. Salmon roe is a popular request in savory Japanese cuisine and has a texture that is easily acquired by the adventurous.

Well, that'll have to be it for today, although ther is so much more to talk about. The art of 'blogging' is a new skill base for me in the making and after spending the day writing and rewriting several copies of drafts I were lost forever, I have found them all., alas. Funny, I had no idea I was this reluctant to enter the new 'Information Age'. I ask that you bear with me - as I intend on entering into at some soon point. Really, I do... Until then,

best wishes and much

Ps - input is good, questions, too.

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