The word caviar comes from the Persian word “khaviar” (kha means egg in Persian). These salted, processed fish eggs are enjoyed at special occasions today all around the world. However, caviar is not newly prized; the Persian and Roman empires have been enjoying this delicacy for centuries. Originally, the Persians used the eggs for medicinal purposes only, according to All About Caviar. They discovered the eggs from sturgeons in the Caspian sea. The Greeks, on the other hand, consumed caviar for pleasure. They served the roe on platters filled with flowers to honor their royal rulers.
Of the 400 sturgeon species, only three are used to make caviar: the Beluga, Ocsierte and Sevruga. These three species inhabit the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea. A large array of sizes, colors, textures of eggs can be obtained from these three species because age plays a role in the flavor and color of roe (History of Caviar).
The rarest, most expensive caviar is known as “almas caviar” that comes from the mature Beluga sturgeon. Almas actually means diamond — a perfect name for this delectable good. This Iranian delicacy is so rare that it can only be obtained in one place; the Caviar House & Prunier in London England’s Picadilly. According to The Most Expensive Caviar in the World, one kilo of this almas caviar is served in a 24-karat gold tin for about $25,000. Yes, you read me right — twenty-five thousand dollars.
As sturgeon caviar goes, the older the fish, the more prized the roe. Beluga’s mature after 25 to 40 years. Mature Beluga sturgeons are difficult to find, with only about a hundred Belugas caught each year from the Caspian Sea (History of Caviar). Belugas also carry the biggest eggs. The rarity and size of this sturgeon’s eggs make this caviar very expensive.
There are three rankings for the quality of Beluga caviar: 0 refers to the younger, darker eggs; 00 refers to a medium toned egg; and 000 refers to the lightest, most expensive caviar that has a light grey color. The 000 prized roe is known as “Royal Caviar”. The name “royal” comes from history, when the eggs were reserved only for royalty. The eggs have an earthy, nutty and fruity flavor, according to 911caviar.com.
Salmon caviar is a bit different from the roe of sturgeon. First off, it is not considered gourmet caviar. Secondly, the darker and smaller the eggs, the higher the quality, as opposed to sturgeons, where the opposite holds true. The best salmon roe comes from the dog salmon and is referred to as keta’s caviar. This caviar is orange with a tinge of red (Different Kinds of Caviar). In second place comes the light orange caviar of pink salmon, and red salmon’s caviar that has a maroon hue and larger size. These varieties are priced from $8 to $160 per 8 oz. — less expensive than the sturgeon.
In this video, Andre Zimmern of Bizarre Foods is shown how sturgeon roe is processed in a farm in Central Florida.