I was reluctant to discuss caviar prices in the article because the prices can change so rapidly and vary up to 20% from source to source. Prices can vary even more depending on location and internet shopping is somewhat unreliable unless you purchase from the caviar producer's website. In addition, due to the perishable nature of caviar, mail ordering requires paying for overnight delivery.
At this time, if you live in a metropolitan area and can find a place to buy fresh caviar expect to pay:
Osetra - $70 to $100 per ounce (28 g)
Siberian Sturgeon - $50 to $90 per ounce
White Sturgeon - $45 to $70 per ounce
American hackleback - $10 to $30 per ounce
Also, it should be noted that it is not necessarily the case that the more expensive brands are better than the lower cost brands.
UPDATE (April 2007):
A company called AffordableCaviar.com
is selling inexpensive caviar at prices significantly lower than average. This is potentially a great place to buy an 8-ounce (1/2 pound!) Sampler
for $115. You won't be getting any osetra or sevruga caviar from this source, but you'll be able to get your hands on hackleback sturgeon caviar, paddlefish roe, salmon roe, and other fish roe that could work for you as an acceptable caviar substitute without the worries of overfishing and poor working conditions.
That was very helpful and interesting.
You forgot to mention ALMAS caviar, possible the most expensive food on this planet. http://www.nvogue.com/nVogueFoods/Caviar/caviarguide.htm
Love your blog!
But what does it taste like?
I thought this article was very appropriate. It made me rethink how food arrives at my table, an essential journey for every discerning cook.
The Caviar Kings
From the NOV 2003 issue of Seed:[/size:c836ee4274]
Like nearly every other luxury in the world, caviar is tinged with hues of danger. It has the reek of gangsters and the taste of a dying species. Now, with exclusive access to multiple federal investigations, Simon Cooper reveals just how far greed will take those who seek Russia’s black gold.
If you would abolish avarice, you must abolish its mother, luxury.—Cicero
EARLY FALL 1998—CASPIAN SEA
In a small fishing camp tucked behind the reeds guarding the shores of the Caspian Sea, a poacher prepares to process his catch. In the gunnels of his boat is a thick, writhing carpet of sturgeon, living dinosaurs that have swum the waters of the great blue earth for more than 250 million years. The poacher selects a fat female. She is about four feet long and swollen with eggs. He hits her hard with a plank of wood—not hard enough to kill, but enough to stun. Blood trickles from her eyeballs, mouth, and gills. Quickly, the poacher rolls her over, slits open her belly, reaches inside, and carefully extracts a plump, gray-black sac about the size of a pillow. He puts the egg sac into a large plastic bucket and throws the eviscerated fish on the ground, where she flaps and thrashes, her abdomen gaping, until she succumbs and dies. Later he will butcher her for meat.
(see link above for more of the article - a very absorbing 13 pages long)
Easily available in our local grocery stores is "Lumpfish Caviar" which comes in at about CDN$4 per 50g. Obviously, not in the same league as the big guys.
My question is: How does it compare? As I've never had the expensive fare, I'm curious to know what similarities or differences it would have to "real" caviar.
I have travelled the world and eaten a diverse collection of foods with no sign of allergies. However at a fancy reataurant in Warsaw, Poland I found out I was allergic to caviar. When I write this on medical forms, people just laugh at me.
Thank you for the information.
Comparing it to the good stuff is like calling Sparkling Cider--Champagne! ;)
Right Church, wrong Pew! :D
The ebbs and flows of history made this old peasant food a luxury item (as often happens when those with more money notice those with less enjoying themselves).
Once upon a time, peasants and workers couldn't keep the fish, those were for the nobility. So the fishermen stole the eggs, which seemed harmless enough at the time, and sent the fish to their "rightul consumers".
Things will change, as they always do.
Probably doesn't have too much to do with this, but when I lived in Baltimore, I used to use a Russian deli for things like this. He went to NYC every week and, if I preordered, would come back with however much caviare I wanted, the good stuff, at a greatly reduced price, because the eggs were not perfect. For someone who adores caviare, that was not an issue. I like the pop of the eggs on my tongue as much as the next guy, but if some of the eggs are crushed, but I'm paying $50 for a pound, who cares? It was also satisfactory for use in dishes where the eggs would not be on display. Now that it's harder to come by, I wonder if it's still available this way.
In Chicago, we can get roe from Illinois sturgeon (not sure if location is important for the name caviar or the fish of origin) at the Fish Guy on Elston Avenue http://www.fishguy.com/. It is an amazing substitute for Caspian caviar...
Caviar is one of those things where common sense (hopefully a trait of engineers in general) can rapidly give way to nonsense. If you have more money than sense, than by all means experiment.
An alternative is simply to go for something that tastes great and is quite inexpensive (around $2 an ounce as opposed to the ludicrous amounts for the Balck Sea type caviars). I am referring to "Tobiko", or flying fish roe. You can read about it here
. Not endangered, great flavor that is never "fishy", crunchy texture, not at all salty.
I too love tobiko. Great texture, excellent taste (and seemingly great quality control since every batch tastes about the same). Unfortunately, it doesn't really taste much like caviar and certainly has the wrong texture.
This only holds if you insist that the definition of caviar is restricted to Sturgeon roe. Of course, that rapidly collapses when one considers all the different sub-species of the fish and the simple fact that some of them produce awful tasting roe. So, under that geas, your "doesn't really taste much like caviar" is somewhat specious.
Likewise, what Tobiko does not taste like is what many consider traditional caviar, which is actually an advantage to many palates. As for the "wrong texture", I think you will agree that a subjective opinion, which that is, has no place in engineering.
It is probably safe to assume that Mr. Chu DOES use the word caviar to expressly mean "sturgeon roe" and uses the word roe for general fish eggs. He says it in the post and even says that another fish's roe can be sold as caviar only if preceded by the name of the fish. In that case, I think I'd have to agree that the flavor and texture of tobiko (flying fish roe) isn't similar to that of caviar (sturgeon roe). The other fish mentioned in the article - paddlefish and hackleback are much more similar.
In 1965, the US Navy sent me to Iran to help control a cholera epidemic. I visited the Caspian Sea area and was able to purchase caviar directly from the "caviar factory," as the processing plant was called. After doing so, my companions and I went across the road to an outdoor restaurant and enjoyed charcoal-grilled sturgeon -- incredibly tasty and boneless (knocked out the one large piece of cartilage). Learned that the Europeans like their caviar packed with a weak lye (sodium hydroxide) solution in contrast to the sodium chloride solution used in and for the USA.
The cost for half a kilo (500 grams) of the beluga was $14.32!!! The salesman apologized that he had sold the last of the "golden caviar" [?000 grade?] the day before. I said, "I thought all the golden caviar was reserved for the Shah." He replied, "What the Shah does know, the Shah doesn't get!" The caviar lasted for three months. My wife, two boys and I finally got rid of it by spreading it on buttered toast. Honestly, 500 grams of caviar is just too much to deal with.
I apologize for making a slight change in the fascinating subject of caviar, but am about to do so. When I lived in Tulsa thirty years ago, Wolferman's Grocery (Tulsa, Kansas City) sold canned shad roe which we broiled in butter. I loved it, but have since moved to a small town in southern Oklahoma where such things are unavailable. I have searched for it ever since with no luck. Does anybody know of a mail order source for canned shad roe? If so, please post; I would be eternally gratefull.
Well, I've never tasted any caviar that I liked enough to pay money for.
But one of the best things I've eaten along the same line is a set of deep fried shad row. In a restaurant it Charleston S. C. it's about $10 for the whole dinner.
Was reading through your posts on Caviar...and thought I would let you know that there are other great alternatives besides Tobiko and shad. There are a few producers of Fish Roes in the Midwest that are actually quite delicious....A chef friend of mine produces some great Roes in Michigan from sustainable fish such as Steelhead, Char and Trout. He cures then with infused sea salts so he has natural, smoked, and sake cured. He sells most of it to restaurants, but there are other companies in the midwest who produce good roes as well...I'm sure you can find through google....Enjoy!
:P :angry: you all are sick. this doesnt even sound like good food. the rich people are why animal abuse will never end. cause you all think you need to eat good and well. we humans caj live without eating this shit. it is really gross and humans are so weak and fat and ugly . they are the number one polluters and abusers. the man is the biggest abuser why? people want to believe god is man, why? man is the sickess creature out there. they are not beautiful like a cat or dog. ANIMALS ARE AMAZING CREATURES. THEY ARE SO MUCH BETTER THEN YOU AND ME.WE SLAUGHTER SEALS, TIGERS, DEARS, AND ALL ANIMALS FOR MONEY. WE DO NOT DO THIS CAUSE WE ARE IN NEED OF FOOD LIKE A CAVEMAN . THERE SO MUCH FOOD OUT THERE AND IT DOESNT EVEN INVOLVE A ANIMAL.
[Edited by Michael Chu: There was a good deal more content to this post, but the language and writing deteriorated to the point that it was extremely offensive - which I believe was part of the point this poster was trying to make. I invite the poster to post his or her opinions but in a more constructive and less crude fashion. It started to sound like someone from HBO's Deadwood or Scorsese's Departed was posting.]
sorry about my spelling. but evrybody gets what i was saying. we where the better creatures because of our brains and things we can do with our hands. really did any of you ever loose a animal when you where a kid? why do thoughs feeling change when man grows up? humans now are far from the better creature. thats why every animal looks down on us now. all we do is hurt out there. we kill animals for money and sports. i hate it. there is to much pain out there now. this shit needs to end now. there is no understanding behind this way we acted, because we can live without it. it is nothing we need. :angry: :angry: :angry: :angry: :(
OT, but I'll try to wander back on in the end.
To Guest, your credibility would be higher if you registered and became an identifiable individual. I'm going to pick and choose from your post for context. I don't intend to change your meaning, only to provide placekeepers.
From my perspective, spelling and grammar have developed to aid communication. If you don't care enough to make the effort to communicate clearly perhaps you don't care much about your subject.
Perhaps you think this, but I see no substantiation. We all fall victim to anthropomorphism from time to time; we should not confuse kindly thoughts and fantasies with reality. There is no demonstrable fact in your words.
We can live without much we choose not to do without. People don't make food from animals just to make money; other people offer money for food in order to avoid tasks they have no time, inclination, skill, or stomach for. There are lots of reasons I buy meat products from Giant or Costco or specialty stores. In honesty one is that I really prefer not to become intimate with the process of turning animals into food. There is value to me in not having to do it myself and I pay for that.
There are certainly people in the meat industry who would take shortcuts in order to glean a greater return from the process. In the United States and numerous other countries there are governmental, social, or religious mandates that protect animals from cruelty and the consumer from health shortfalls. In many places around the world there are procedures to protect those who report transgressions from inside and outside organizations.
Reasonable people can disagree on what is right on the basis of the same set of facts. As a society we find consensus (not unanimity). That process works best and fastest when we do not confuse opinion with fact.
Freedom of speech in the United States serves to allow anyone to voice their opinion, and to offer information they believe is fact. The media and particularly the Internet make speech faster, cheaper, and more efficient.
For my part, I want the animals I depend upon to be treated well, fed properly, not drugged, and killed humanely. I want to see efficiency in the use of the products and waste minimized. I often pay extra for both the fact of those desires and reasonable assurance that the facts are indeed ... well ... facts.
On that note, and actually relevant to caviar, to me that means if a fish is killed harvesting roe for caviar I want to see the flesh of the fish used for something and not wasted.
If it makes you feel any better, I am an abysmal fisherman. I quite literally dragged a fishing line behind my boat all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and caught nothing.
you are in fact a sorry mess about many things - your spelling, your language, your infantile attitude, your extremism.
if you wish any rationale being to consider opinions you hold, you need to grow up - really fast. my cat wouldn't put up with your attitude.
:lol: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :lol: just because someone is not smart and knows good grammer doesnt mean they are wrong. sorry if you met my cat. you would understand the love there.that is another thing ejacation is over rated. you can not do or live without it. not like when our moms grew up and had 8 kids and still did it. you can not do that now. you will fall . school does not make a human better. you are a fool to think so. with the way you write . sorry you just dont say fuck you, you are rude with the proper grammer. then that makes you the better person. wright bitch..i dont think so. anger is such a real emotion. you all have it to. you are far from better then that person who is angry about people who eat and kill animals
fascinating. let's take a look:
>just because someone is not smart and knows good grammer doesnt mean they are wrong.
if someone is "not smart" odds are they may not have formulated a rationale opinion.
oh, that's "grammar"
no spell checker?
>sorry if you met my cat. you would understand the love there.
haven't met your cat; my cat loves squirrel meat - chicken livers, too.
>that is another thing ejacation is over rated. you can not do or live without it.
not like when our moms grew up and had 8 kids and still did it.
now this is really interesting. "our moms" have been "ejaculating." fascinating.
technically there a "female ejaculation" noted - I doubt that's what you mean - as you can't spell that either.
note to self: take up collection of unused apostrophes for the textually challenged.
second note to self: find out what human sex has to do with fish eggs.
>you can not do that now. you will fall .
gravity makes everything fall, to what specifically is the reference?
>school does not make a human better. you are a fool to think so. with the way you write . sorry you just dont say fuck you, you are rude with the proper grammer. then that makes you the better person. wright bitch..i dont think so. anger is such a real emotion. you all have it to. you are far from better then that person who is angry about people who eat and kill animals
wright bitch - oh dear, where does one start with that? we got mill wrights, wheel wrights, LIl'Joe Cartwright . . . check your spelling and let us know.
did you mean: "you all have it, too" ?
as a point of fact: "smart" has nothing to do with "education" - some humans have an innate intelligence, others just rant and rave in complete ignorance.
heck, if you get a bit more hot under the collar, you'll cook yourself and we can feed you to . . . .uh,,,, what group of carnivores would be acceptable?
9-24-07 A Napa Girl posted she has a friend who makes caviar from Steelhead, Char and Trout eggs by infused salts for natural, also smoked and sake cured. I'd love to have some of these recipes as I sometime catch Steelhead, Trout and King Salmon loaded with eggs. I do not know how to treat or cure them for human consumption. The old borax trick works to make fish bait but they are not eatable. I will appreciate any and all help. :)
There's what looks to be a good overview of caviar information at http://homecooking.about.com/od/seafood/a/caviarvarieties.htm
The cooking for engineers section of the caviar site has HIGHER prices than the front page. Just an FYI.