Sturgeon Caviar Varieties:
The queen of caviars, sturgeon caviar is available either farmed or wild, and from four main varieties of sturgeon: Beluga, Sevruga, Hackleback, and Ossetra. Despite its reputation for being exclusive and expensive, there are actually a wide variety of options (at different price levels) available.
Sevruga Caviar – The smallest and most abundant (relatively speaking) of the wild caviar sturgeons, sevruga produce small black eggs with the most potent sturgeon caviar flavor…smooth and buttery. Paddlefish Caviar is considered to be an affordable non-sturgeon substitute for sevruga eggs.
Osetra Caviar – (aka Oscietre Caviar) – the flavor, color, and size of osetra sturgeon eggs can vary wildly depending on how the fish was raised, what it ate, and where it came from. Here are several varieties worth noting
Russian Osetra Caviar – Farm raised, this caviar is called Russian because the sturgeon in this farm are Russian (imported from Caspian sea at a young age). Care is taken to keep conditions & diet in the farm as close to wild as possible, producing a more affordable medium-sized caviar that is close to wild quality. Available in either imperial (rich & nutty) or crown (rich, nutty with hints of salt & cream).
Royal Siberian Osetra – Farm-raised, this large, golden caviar (harvested from siberian sturgeon) has a crisp sweet & nutty flavor. It is sometimes favorably compared to wild beluga caviar.
California White Sturgeon Osetra Caviar – Though it’s called “osetra caviar” by the caviar industry, this caviar is actually harvested from an American sturgeon breed farmed in the US. It is the most affordable of the “Ossetra” varieties and is fast becoming a favorite for its smooth yet robust buttery-nutty flavor.
Hackleback Caviar (aka American Sturgeon Caviar, Shovelnose Caviar) – is American wild caviar harvested from the hackleback sturgeon. Hackleback caviar has firm, black eggs, and an intensely nutty flavor. It is the most affordable variety of sturgeon caviar available.
Though not actually from sturgeon, these fish roes are similar enough that they can be used in place of sturgeon roe for canapés, salads & garnishes.
Paddlefish Caviar – wild American Paddlefish caviar (aka Spoonbill caviar) is a very affordable substitute for sturgeon caviar (particularly sevruga caviar). This American caviar is firm, light grey, and has a robust yet distinguished buttery flavor with a sea tang. Though harvested and prepared in the US, it is made using traditional Russian guidelines for a finished caviar that is similar to Russian Malossol caviars.
Bowfin Caviar – wild American Bowfin caviar has a mild tangy flavor and small brown-black grains. It’s best enjoyed with accompaniments, such as crème Fraiche and lemon juice.
Whitefish Caviar – The small golden eggs of this caviar are harvested from Golden Whitefish, a species native to the Great Lakes. Its flavor is tangy yet slightly sweet.
Trout Caviar – Harvested from freshwater trout caught in France’s inland lakes, this medium-sized caviar has a firm texture, strong flavor, and a translucent pink appearance with tiny orange spots.
Most commonly found in sushi, these colorful roes can also be used in salads, noodle dishes, canapés, eggs or as an eye-catching garnish. They are most commonly known by their Japanese names.
Ikura (Species: Pink Salmon) – The largest of the sushi-style roes, this ikura has been sustainably harvested from plentiful pink salmon caught by family-run fishing boats. Beyond its common use as a sushi ingredient, ikura can also be blended with cream cheese to create a tasty spread for crackers.
Tobiko (Species: Larger Capelin or Flying Fish) – Tobiko eggs (aka tobico, tobiko) are much smaller than Ikura. They are available in a variety of flavors (such as wasabi tobiko).
Lumpfish Caviar – A Scandinavian delicacy, lumpfish roe is crunchy with a pronounced salty-fish flavor. This caviar is pasteurized, making it shelf stable.