Classic caviar is a delicacy made from sturgeon eggs, which traditionally is not considered kosher. Even though there are disputes among rabbis about whether Sturgeon is kosher or not, most people are not eager to take a chance and enjoy this fish and its roe. Still, if you are interested in eating kosher caviar, you will be happy to know there are such caviars.
In theory, all roe from kosher fish can be considered kosher caviar. Still, even the kosher fish eggs must be taken out under Rabbinical supervision to be considered kosher, except red roe from salmon or trout.
Still, the demand for kosher caviar has increased in the last decade, and more and more people are interested in finding real kosher fish roe delicacies. But is caviar kosher, really? This could be up to debate since it’s fish roe or eggs, and some animal eggs aren’t considered kosher.
Many would say that any fish that have scales whether visible or non-visible is considered kosher. If you end up disappointed after finding out your favorite fish isn’t by the book, there’s an alternative. A Russian company called Tzar Caviar has even made a sturgeon caviar substitute that tastes, looks, and feels like real caviar, and it is kosher.
But let’s see which natural caviars are kosher and if all kosher fish have roe that you can eat.
Which Fish Can Jewish People Eat?
According to the Torah (Vayikra 11:9), kosher fish are considered to have scales and fins. But not all fish that have scales can be kosher. Before you start asking is salmon kosher or is tobiko kosher, make sure to check a list of safe fish for consumption.
Scales that are embedded in the skin or not visible to the eye are not acceptable. Also, if scales can not be removed easily by hand or knife without tearing the skin apart are not considered kosher.
And even though scientists have different definitions of the scales, Torah is only interested in scales you can remove with ease. For example, if you ask: “is sturgeon kosher?” you might get disappointed since there are intricacies regarding this fish’s scales. That’s why fish like sturgeon aren’t on the list of kosher fish.
Here’s a small sample of a questionably kosher fish list, with fish types that have scales but are not considered kosher:
- Sturgeon – Even though sturgeons produce the most famous caviar, they have scales; these scales are “ganoid” and can not be removed without tearing the skin apart. So, is sturgeon kosher? Not really,
- Burbot – This species has cycloid scales, which are almost always considered kosher and added to the kosher list. Still, with this particular fish, the scales are embedded in the skin and therefore are not kosher,
- Sand lances – This fish technically has scales, but they are tiny and not visible to the naked eye, so it is not kosher.
See a Complete List of Kosher Fishes
As you can see from the kosher list, even though there are strict rules about kosher fish in the end, the best way to know for sure is to buy fish and all kosher foods from Rabbinical supervised stores. They can give you kosher black caviar and kosher salmon roe, and explain what’s safe to eat.
And if you don’t have such a store nearby, you can still go without posing questions like: “is black caviar kosher?” and “is salmon roe kosher?” Instead, simply take a look at the list and avoid potential problems when shopping in general stores.
Still, if you, for some reason, must buy fish from other stores, here is a complete list of kosher and non-kosher fish, at least those usually on shelves in our stores. For everyone asking is Beluga caviar kosher, they’re about to be slightly disappointed.
|Name of the fish||Kosher||Not Kosher|
|Sevruga, Osetra or Kaluga sturgeon||x|
|Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmons||x|
|Triggerfish and firefish||x|
|Puffers, blowfish, swellfish, sea squab||x|
Kosher Caviar List
So we have established that traditional Russian caviar from the sturgeon family is not kosher. Beluga Sturgeon is not kosher either. Are fish eggs kosher at all? Sadly for caviar lovers, many popular and great caviar types aren’t on a list of kosher foods.
So, what caviars on the market are available for Jewish people? You would probably think that roe from any kosher fish will be good enough to consume. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Why this is so is still unknown, but the most probable reason is that only roe from certain kosher fish most resembles the traditional caviar, both in taste and texture.
To answer the question is caviar kosher directly – it’s not. You can probably get away with some whitefish caviar, bottarga, Alaskan salmon, and American Bowfin, which are presented below. If the taste doesn’t work, consider other delicacies that you don’t have to feel guilty about later on.
Here is the list of the most famous kinds of kosher caviars most producers will offer.
Golden and Black Whitefish Caviar
Black Whitefish roe comes from the Salmon family. This fish produces small crispy yellow eggs that become dark after processing. It has a mildly zesty flavor with a bit of a sweet taste. Price is affordable for anyone’s pocket, and this kind of roe is an excellent substitute for caviar. It is also used as a garnish on many dishes, and since it is among cheaper versions, it can be included in a daily healthy diet.
Golden Whitefish caviar also comes from the Salmon family, but roe from this fish remains golden after processing. It is also pretty affordable and excellent for daily eating or for catering businesses.
This caviar is made from Grey Mullet fish, and it comes from the Mediterranean region. The Bottarga comes from an Italian word meaning salted, cured fish roe. It is often called “poor man caviar,” but there’s nothing poor about it. It’s sun-dried and then pressed into a sausage-like shape. And you can guess it is excellent for pasta dishes or omelets. There is also Tuna roe bottarga available on the market.
Alaskan Salmon and Bowfin Kosher Caviar
Probably the most popular is the Alaskan Salmon roe. This shouldn’t be mixed up with Alaskan pollock kosher fish. The Alaskan Salmon roe tastes great, and it is made from large, firm orange berries that crunch and burst into a sea flavor once eaten.
It is usually served on sushi, but it is also great when eaten like traditional caviar. American Bowfin caviar is a rarity because it comes in a natural black color like Sturgeon roe. It comes from the southern waters of Louisiana, and currently, the only producer that has permission to produce it is Black Diamond Caviar. It has an earthy, tangy taste.
The Demand for Kosher Caviar Is Increasing – Should We Expect More Products?
As you can see, there is plenty of kosher fish but not as many kosher caviar products available; is roe kosher? It’s not, so getting away with eating fish alone is much better. The main reason why kosher caviar doesn’t really exist is likely the difficulty of harvesting or not having very good taste.
But as demand increases and people keep asking is fish roe kosher, who knows? Maybe some companies will find a new kind of kosher fish roe that looks and tastes good, while extraction and processing remain simple and unproblematic.