If you’ve never had the chance to try hackleback caviar, I highly recommend it. Sourced in the USA and sustainably harvested, many have compared the flavor of hackleback to far more expensive varieties such as osetra caviar (which often goes for up to $50 an ounce).
What is the best hackleback caviar, though? Marky’s has some of the best hackleback caviar on the market. However, there are a number of other small brands, including domestic importers and a couple of farm-to-table providers that produce high quality caviar.
In today’s article, I’m going to discuss the best hackleback caviar brands on the market, tell you why I like each particular brand, and what (if anything) makes them stand out from the competition.
Let’s take a look!
The Best Hackleback Caviar Brands On The Market
Hackleback is a delicious variety of caviar, and it’s known for having an incredibly diverse flavor profile that rivals even the most expensive imported Russian and Israeli caviars. As a domestic import, it’s also quite affordable (as far as caviar goes anyway), and makes a lot more sense for daily eating than foreign delicacies.
As more people and restaurant chefs have started to switch to hackleback caviar as their primary everyday American sturgeon variety, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my favorite brands.
So, I decided to write a full in-depth article reviewing some of the best hackleback caviar brands on the market. I’ve tried all of these brands at least once or twice, so I thought it was only fair that I broke my silence and gave some good feedback!
And don’t forget to check out my page to discover some must-try caviar products!
Marky’s Hackleback Caviar
When it comes to overall quality, variety, and getting the best deal for your money, it’s hard to beat Marky’s caviar. The company had its origins in 1983 when Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Mark Zaslavsky started his own small grocery supply chain in Miami, Florida.
One of their most popular products was their special imported Russian ceviche. However, when the sturgeon trade was facing stricter regulation, he and his business partner, Mark Gelmen, decided to start the first (and today, only) beluga sturgeon farm in the country- Sturgeon AquaFarms.
The point being, when it comes to caviar- Marky’s is one of the best in the game thanks to their hands-on business approach. Their hackleback roe, which they buy from local southeastern fishers, is perfectly-balanced.
Although the pearls tend to be on the smaller side, the flavor is exquisite. It has a moderate brine and a complex, lightly tangy taste. The texture is incredibly smooth and almost silk-like. I usually eat it on top of a dry cracker with a bit of creme fraiche. At just $30 per ounce, it’s also a pretty decent deal!
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Russ And Daughters Hackleback Caviar
Russ And Daughters is another favorite of mine, especially when I find myself in Manhattan. This small family-owned Jewish restaurant has been a Lower Eastside staple for over 100 years. They specialize in serving kosher appetizers such as bagels, caviar, and smoked fish.
Even though more than a century has passed since they first opened their small spot, Russ And Daughters is still owned by the Russ family. Due to popular request, they started shipping some of their smoked fish and caviar all across the country to people like me.
They typically have several different types of caviar on their menu depending on the season, but their hackleback is consistently available on their menu. It’s also my favorite! I’m not sure exactly where they source it from, but there’s something about their kosher brining process that makes it taste extra-juicy and flavorful.
It’s about the same price as Marky’s, standing around $30 per ounce.
Olma Foods Hackleback Caviar
Olma Foods is fine foods importer located in Brooklyn, New York. They are one of the city’s premier mass importers and also happen to supply some of the top restaurants in the Northeast. Olma specializes in black caviar. While these are generally regarded as less expensive, they tend to be the most popular due to their salty taste and lower price point. Olma has a signature “molassol” method of bringing their caviar, which really brings out the warm, nutty elements of the hackleback.
All of Olma’s hackleback caviar is purchased from Missouri or Mississippi fisheries where the hackleback sturgeon is responsibly fished, and populations are kept steady. I particularly enjoy the low salt content. A lot of the cheaper caviars that I’ve had tend to compensate for lack of flavor by adding extra salt, which only serves to make me cringe.
Definitely give Olma’s hackleback caviar a try if you’re ordering online! They’re also slightly cheaper than Marky’s and Russ and Daughters. Their hackleback caviar runs around $25 per ounce.
Caviar Star Hackleback Caviar
Caviar Star is based out of Portland, Maine, and they’ve been in the business of importing and packaging some of the best caviar in the Northeast since 1991. Their parent company, Great Atlantic Trading, also has experience importing fine wines, truffles, oils, and other high-end foods. Needless to say- they know quality.
Their hackleback caviar is very delicious. Like Olma’s, Caviar Star’s hackleback caviar is made up of small to medium-sized pearls, each one firm and plump, brined in the molassol style. They have a really great pop as well.
My favorite thing about Caviar Star is that they have one of the best deals on the market when it comes to their hackleback caviar’s price. They only charge $24 per ounce before shipping, which is a few dollars less than Marky’s or Olma’s. I know it’s not much, but hey- every dollar counts!
Alma Gourmet Wild Hackleback Caviar
In the early-1990s, Italian immigrant Alfredo Alma moved from Rome to New York City. He quickly realized that there was a niche for high-quality Italian food exports such as olive oil, cured meats, and Italy’s famous caviar.
In addition to their fine selection of high-end Italian caviar, they also have wild-caught hackleback caviar that I find particularly delicious. It has a light grain-like scent combined with the noticeable aroma of sea salt. The flavor is nutty, earth-like, and incredibly smooth.
As far as pricing goes, Alma’s hackleback caviar is the same as Marky’s, coming in around $28 per ounce.
Paramount Hackleback Caviar
Paramount Caviar was founded by a husband and wife team, Hossein Aimani and Amy Arrow-Aimani. They both appreciated fine food imports and decided that they wanted to start a gourmet caviar importing business.
Since they started in 1991, they have supplied some of the most high-end restaurants in New York with their quality caviar. Today, they also have an online retail branch that allows their customers to purchase the same restaurant-quality caviar for a fraction of the price for home consumption.
Once the Caspian Sea trade ban came into play in 2005, Paramount turned away from foreign imports and started to focus on both local sturgeon farms and wild-caught hackleback caviar from the midwest (primarily Tennessee and Mississippi). Today, their hackleback is one of their most popular items!
I’m not exactly sure how they brine their caviar, but something about their process gives Paramount’s hackleback caviar a unique buttery taste that few hacklebacks I’ve tasted have. However, it does come at a price– almost $44 per ounce.
Browne Trading Co. American Hackleback Caviar
Like Caviar Star, Browne Trading Company is located in Portland, Maine. Perhaps, the words of the New York Times describe them best:
“There is no better way to sample exquisitely fresh seafood than ordering from Browne Trading.”
Brown Trading Co. has worked with celebrity chefs such as Eric Ripert (the head chef of Le Bernardin in NYC). They work with farms worldwide to get their farmed products and work with local Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississipi fishers to obtain their American hackleback caviar.
One of the reasons why Brown Trading Co.’s hackleback is so highly-rated is that they have a hands-on approach to procuring their caviar. Unlike some distributors that just order the caviar and bottle it up, Brown Trading Co works hand-in-hand with the fisheries to ensure that everything from the way the fish was caught to how it arrives is fine-tuned.
This commitment to quality is one reason why they’ve been able to maintain their seamless reputation. As far as my personal experience with their hackleback caviar goes- it definitely lived up to my expectation.
It is a little expensive, coming in at $36 per ounce, but I guess that’s just the price of quality! In my opinion, the flavor was comparable to Marky’s (which I generally prefer thanks to the lower price).
Fish And Caviar Pasteurized Black Hackleback Caviar
Fish And Caviar is a small caviar exporter based out of Seattle, Washington. These guys have one of my favorite hackleback caviars on the west coast. The caviar beads are medium-sized, have a smooth consistency, and a slightly nutty flavor.
I do find that these are a bit extra-salty. So, in my opinion, they’re better to use as a topping for crackers or fancy avocado toast rather than eaten on their own. The best thing about this caviar is that it’s, by far, the cheapest that I’ve come across.
While the minimum purchase is a 2-ounce jar, it only costs $46.50 ($23.25 per ounce). So far, it’s the only hackleback caviar that I’ve found that can beat Caviar Star’s relatively low price point.
Why Buy Hackleback Caviar?
So, now that I’ve told you about some of my favorite caviar brands let’s talk about the product itself. Why has hackleback caviar become so popular over the past few years, and why are more people choosing hackleback over other varieties of caviar?
Here are some of the top reasons to give hackleback caviar a try if you’ve never had it before!
Hackleback Is Sustainably Harvested From The Wild
One of the best reasons to choose hackleback over other forms of caviar is that it’s the most sustainably harvested when compared to other high-end sturgeon species. As I’ve mentioned before, wild sturgeon species are critically endangereddue to overfishing and poaching.
As a result, most of the world’s caviar comes from sustainable farms. While these farms certainly provide a more sustainable option, it also means no more wild-caught sturgeon caviar… or does it?
The great thing about hackleback is that it’s the only species of sturgeon that is sustainably fished and harvested in the wild! Since population levels of hackleback sturgeon are healthy and have been well-maintained (thanks to protections against over-fishing), caviar lovers can still eat wild-caught caviar.
For the uninformed, wild-caught caviar almost always tends to have a richer, more complex flavor than farm-raised caviar, regardless of the variety. Some farms have managed to retain an excellent flavor profile despite farming by using high-quality food and giving the fish plenty of exercise, but the majority of the time, hackleback tastes just as good.
Hackleback Is Domestic
Another great reason to buy hackleback is that the fish is native to the United States. It’s commonly found in rivers and tributaries such as the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
By purchasing hackleback caviar, you’re supporting hard-working American fishers who make their living and provide for their families thanks to the high demand for this domestic caviar. Another advantage of hackleback’s domestic status is that it tends to be fresher since it doesn’t have to be refrigerated for weeks while it crosses the ocean in shipping containers.
Hackleback Is Low-Cost
One of the most significant advantages of hackleback being a domestic fish is that it’s a lot more affordable. One of the reasons why other varieties of sturgeon are so expensive is that they are often specially imported from overseas. This means that importers have to pay expensive trade tariff taxes, which drive the cost up.
Since hackleback is a locally fished and traded product, transportation costs are much lower, as are any associated taxes!
Hackleback caviar has quickly developed into one of the most popular caviar varieties in the country. The fact that it’s the only commercially fished, wild-caught sturgeon in the United States is usually the point that gets most people to try it for the first time. As a wild-caught sturgeon, I think that hackleback caviar is just as rich, complex, and flavorful as most of the other more expensive dark-colored sturgeon.
Since it’s more affordable, I especially appreciate it if I plan on sharing caviar with a larger group of people! I also don’t feel bad about eating it every day, either.