Many people think of caviar as luxurious food in general, without ever knowing the difference between many varieties of this delicacy. However, no variety deserves a special guide more than Her Majesty – beluga caviar.
Beluga caviar is an exceptionally tasty delicacy produced from endangered beluga sturgeon. The quality of the product, high demand, and low supply make it the most expensive caviar type globally. Due to the complex and robust taste, it’s usually served as an appetizer.
This guide will help you learn more about the amazing taste and harvesting process, show you how this delicacy should be served, provide you with the best recipes, and much more. When you finish, you’ll know everything about beluga caviar like the back of your hand. So, let’s start!
What Is Beluga Caviar?
Beluga caviar is one of the highest quality caviar types in the world and the most expensive one in the market. These unfertilized fish eggs (roe) come from a species called beluga sturgeon or Huso Huso. Beluga roe is the largest and softest amongst all other kinds, with a color that varies from black to light gray. Older fish carry lighter-colored eggs, which have the highest value.
Although many think that the name of this caviar type refers to beluga whales, keep in mind that whales are mammals and, therefore, don’t produce roe.
What Does Beluga Sturgeon Roe Taste Like?
The rich taste this caviar provides is the reason why each true gourmet is ready to spend an unimaginable amount of money on it. The creamy and buttery taste combined with an incredibly smooth texture is followed by a slightly briny flavor and nutty aftertaste. From the moment you take a bite, the thin shell will melt into your mouth and release this unforgettable taste.
However, beluga caviar is not only good for your taste buds. Like other high-quality caviar, this delicacy is rich in vitamin B12 and DHA, EPA, and omega-3 fatty acids. It can also provide plenty of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, sodium, and iron. While you enjoy the fantastic taste it brings, know that you’ll be consuming nutritionally rich food from which you can have many health benefits.
Everything You Need to Know About Beluga Sturgeon Fish
So that the quality and expensiveness of this caviar type can be explained further, some important facts about the beluga sturgeon must be pointed out.
Beluga or great sturgeon is a species whose existence dates as far back as the dinosaur era. Nowadays, these fish primarily inhabit the Caspian and the Black Sea and are considered critically endangered due to overfishing.
These are fairly large animals that grow all their life – bigger beluga sturgeons are usually older. The biggest specimen caught weighed over 3000lb, but they typically measure up to 500lb heavy and 10 feet long. It takes around twenty years for a female to reach maturity, while the spawning occurs every four to seven years. Long maturation cycles make harvesting their eggs challenging.
Is Caviar From Beluga Illegal in Our Country?
Beluga sturgeon is on the list of the United States Endangered Species Act. The endangeredness of this sturgeon type made the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ban its importation inside the country’s borders in 2005. Therefore, although the product itself is not considered illegal, importing it is against the law.
So how do Americans then get to taste this luxurious delicacy? The solution has been found in sturgeon farms. Guided by that idea, Mark Zaslavsky has founded Sturgeon Aquafarms in Florida, with fish brought from the Caspian Sea in the juvenile stage. It’s now the only business that can legally harvest and sell beluga caviar in the United States. Well aware of the danger that threatens to extinct one of the oldest fish species, this company is also engaged in the repopulation of beluga sturgeon by providing fertilized eggs to regions of their origin.
Beluga Caviar Price: Is the Cost Related to the Quality?
Although quality is certainly one, several different factors may affect the cost of a specific caviar variety, such as:
- Roe origin – availability and scarcity of fish will affect the caviar’s cost. Eggs from species that are harder to reach are, by default, costlier. As mentioned, beluga sturgeons are endangered species illegal to import, which has highly affected today’s prices.
- Maturation cycle – Beluga’s long maturation cycle means that farmers need to invest plenty of time and money until the first time they’re able to harvest the eggs.
- Harvesting method – even with modern technology, most egg harvesting is done manually. Eggs must be washed, inspected, and cleaned. Keep in mind that all that needs to be done so the rest of the (very fragile) eggs stay whole and undamaged. It’s a very complicated and delicate task, which has affected the product’s cost.
- Quality of the roe – the quality of eggs can vary, even when harvested from the same source at the same time. However, beluga eggs’ size, flavor, color, and frequency usually make it a high-quality product.
- Supply and demand ratio – lower availability of beluga caviar combined with its high demand is one of the factors responsible for sky-high prices.
Additions or additional processing reduces the quality of eggs and, therefore, the product’s value. That is why many beluga caviar producers avoid using any.
The Cost of Beluga Caviar Compared With Other Types
Pure beluga sturgeon caviar can cost more than $400 per ounce – at Marky’s, for example, the exact price of purebred beluga caviar at this moment is as high as $830 per ounce. However, keep in mind that beluga roe is often mixed with other, similar types, affecting lower price and quality.
According to CaviarStar, in 2020, this is how the prices of different caviar varieties ranged:
|Fish Species||Sturgeon origin||Approximate price per ounce|
Beluga Hybrid Caviar
What is beluga hybrid caviar?
Beluga hybrid caviar is caviar that is made from a combination of beluga and sterlet sturgeon. The beluga sturgeon is a large fish that lives in the Caspian Sea and produces the largest eggs of all the sturgeons. The sterlet sturgeon is a smaller fish that also lives in the Caspian Sea and produces eggs that are smaller than those of the beluga sturgeon.
Beluga hybrid caviar is made by crossing a female beluga with a male sterlet. The offspring of this cross are then used to produce the caviar. Beluga hybrid caviar has a black color and a smooth, buttery texture. It has a slightly nutty flavor with a hint of brine.
Beluga hybrid caviar is a relatively new caviar on the market and is not as well known as other types of caviar. It is, however, becoming more popular as people learn about its unique flavor and smooth texture. If you are looking for something new and different in your caviar, then beluga hybrid caviar may be the right choice for you.
Almas Caviar – the Most Expensive Caviar in the World
Almas caviar is a white beluga caviar.
One of the most expensive food products and the costliest of all caviar globally, Almas caviar is produced from an albino beluga sturgeon between 60 and 100 years old.
As with other animal (and human) species, albinism is also a result of a genetic disorder.
Albino beluga sturgeon are very rare and can be found near Iran, in the southern part of the Caspian Sea. The color of the eggs can vary from gold to white, and it can reach the price of as much as $34,000 per kg (2.2 pounds)!
What Are Beluga Hybrids?
The ban on the beluga sturgeon has caused the appearance of its substitutes or so-called hybrids on the market. Beluga hybrids are cross-bred with some other type of sturgeon. The most famous cross-breeding is the one with the Siberian sturgeon, for which connoisseurs claim to be closest to the quality and taste of pure beluga caviar.
Hybrid types of caviar can be traded legally on the United States market, while prices tend to be lower than those for caviar from purebred beluga.
Serving Huso Huso Caviar (and Every Item Necessary to Do It Properly)
First and foremost, you should know that beluga caviar is more often served as an appetizer because of its strong flavor (and expensiveness). Depending on your personal preferences, you can opt for serving it with or without any additions.
While many connoisseurs would agree that additions ruin the authentic taste, some people find the robust flavor a bit too much on its own. There is no rule – the decision should be based on what you prefer.
It should be served cold, which is why you can often see a dish with caviar served on ice. If you opt to move the eggs to a serving dish, be very careful – they break easily.
Also, keep in mind that not all materials go well with beluga caviar. Sliver, for example, can be responsible for a metallic taste that will diminish the original flavor.
Instead, stick to utensils made from bone or glass. You can also follow the traditional, royal way of serving beluga caviar and opt for gold or nacre (mother of pearl) cutlery.
Remember that caviar will spoil after a short period of time once opened, so it’s better to buy smaller tins. If not all of it is eaten in a single sitting, know that it must be consumed within two or three days. For a true gourmet, that won’t pose a problem.
Perfect Wine Matches for Beluga Caviar
It’s no secret that the right glass of wine can do wonders for a meal if paired correctly. But which wine goes well with beluga caviar? Here are the best picks:
- Blanc de Noir
- Sparkling Rose
Wine, however, is not the only alcoholic beverage you can pair with beluga caviar. That is a common European practice. On the other hand, Russians traditionally like to serve their caviar in combination with chilled vodka.
Best Gourmet Recipes With Beluga Sturgeon Caviar – a True Gift for Your Taste Buds
When choosing to pair beluga caviar with some other food, the key is to keep it simple. This delicacy is usually eaten with crackers or traditional Russian blinis. Crème fraiche, potatoes, yolks and whites of a hard-cooked egg, and lightly buttered toast are also commonly served with beluga caviar. Fresh herbs and chopped onions can be used as garnishes.
However, that’s not all. The possibilities for serving and eating beluga caviar are endless. If you’re interested in finding out more, here are some of the most exquisite beluga caviar recipes.
Blini with Beluga Caviar and Creme Fraiche – for Those Who Want to Keep It Traditional
Often described as Russian-style pancakes, blinis are one of the most popular companions of beluga caviar. If you decide on this way of serving, these are the ingredients needed to make blinis from scratch:
- Whole wheat flour – one-quarter of a cup,
- Buckwheat flour – half a cup,
- All-purpose flour – sifted, two cups,
- Active dry yeast – five-quarters of a teaspoon,
- Sugar – one teaspoon,
- Salt – half a tablespoon,
- Butter – unsalted, two tablespoons,
- Water – warm, one cup,
- Eggs – three pieces, separated,
- Vegetable frying oil,
- Crème fraîche – one pint.
Stir wheat and buckwheat flour, add one cup of all-purpose type, yeast, water, and sugar. Let the dough rest in a warm spot for one to one and a half hours – the mix should reach twice its original size. Warm the milk, but don’t let it boil. After that, leave it to cool down at room temperature.
Whisk egg yolks and salt, then gradually add melted butter. Mix the milk and the remaining all-purpose flour. Add this to the dough and stir until the batter becomes smooth. Let it rise – it usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes in a warm place.
Whisk egg whites until the mixture becomes stiff. Add egg whites to the batter and leave it for about ten minutes.
Add oil to the pan (not too much, just to cover the bottom). Place one tablespoon of butter in the pan – one tablespoon should provide one blini. Let them cook until they get a nice, golden color (about two to three minutes on each side).
Serve the dish. You can choose to place crème fraîche on top of the blinis and add beluga caviar on top of the cream, or you can serve it all in separate serving dishes.
Beluga Caviar With White Chocolate – an Unexpected Mix
This simple but luxurious and exotic recipe is like nothing you tasted before. Flavors that change rapidly one after another will wow you as well as anybody you present it to. You will need only:
- White chocolate – 125g (organic, if possible)
- Beluga caviar – small tin, around 30g (1 ounce)
Melt white chocolate in the microwave or place it in a glass bowl over a pot with boiling water and let it melt slowly. Spread the melted chocolate on baking paper in a thin layer (use a pallet knife) and leave it in the fridge overnight to harden properly. When the time comes, cut the chocolate into the shape you want. Before serving, place the caviar on top of each piece according to your taste (the standard measure is half a teaspoon).
Beluga Caviar with Oysters – One of the Most Expensive Serving Ways
If you’re looking for seafood heaven, don’t miss trying out this amazing recipe. Here are the ingredients needed:
- Scrubbed oysters – around 30 pieces
- Butter – 4 ounces
- White wine (dry) – 1 cup
- Shallot – 3 pieces
- Heavy cream – 1 cup
- Salt – half of the teaspoon,
- Ground white pepper – one-quarter,
- Leek whites – 12 small pieces,
- Beluga caviar – 6 ounces,
- Pepper – to taste.
After opening the oyster, keep the bottom shells. Prepare a saucepan and melt the butter in it. Add oysters and oyster juice, wine, chopped shallots, and spices (salt and pepper). Boil that mix for 2 minutes and then strain so that the liquid in the saucepan is reduced by half. Store the oysters. Add half a cup of heavy cream and continue cooking. Chop the leek whites into thin slices, blanch, and let it cook with the other half of heavy cream.
Put one oyster on every shell and then cover it with the leek mixture and reduction sauce. Add one spoon of beluga caviar over every oyster, but do it just before the serving time, not sooner.
Indulge in Luxury and Enjoy One of the Most Flavorful Delicacies in the World
Now that you’ve learned all there is to know about beluga caviar, you may begin to understand why it’s one of the most prestigious food products in many different cultures. However, no words can properly describe the experience of actually tasting it. So, if you feel tempted by everything you’ve just read, treat yourself. After all, there is a reason that caviar is still called royal food until this day – and beluga caviar is its finest form.