This may be surprising, but there are many ways to prepare caviar. It’s not just collected fish roe shoved in a jar, but an entire curing process gives it its distinct taste and texture. Malossol Caviar is one of the most popular and highly-valued types of fish roe. Learn more about it here.
Malossol in Russian literally means “little salt” or “lightly salted.” It symbolizes the salt curing process many caviar types go through, and it’s considered ideal. The salt ratio recommended for caviars is between 3% and 5%, as smaller amounts allow natural flavors to wake up.
If you’re unsure what type of caviar to start with, read more about malossol and see why it’s best to start with this kind.
Malossol is a combination of two words: “malo” (little) and “sol” (salt,) and in caviar terms, it means “lightly salted.” It’s one of four methods for curing caviar but considered the best in nutritional value, health benefits, and storing fish roe for later.
Malossol includes between 3% and 5% of salt per batch, which is little compared to the other methods. It is reserved mainly for highest-grade caviars, such as Kaluga, Osetra, and Beluga. These also come cured with different techniques, so not all Osetra caviar is malossol, for example.
Other curing methods include:
- Pressed – the second-best curing method for caviar, using ripe roe with salt and pressing it to an almost smooth consistency,
- Semi-preserved – the oldest, most traditional way of curing caviar, typically containing around 8% salt,
- Pasteurized – this method is reserved for storing caviar in glass jars. It’s treated at very high temperatures and sealed and preserved in glass jars for a long time. This method could kill some of the original roe flavors, but it’s better than the semi-preserved that still uses more salt than any other method.
A lower salt concentration in fish roe allows for its natural flavors to pop out. Considering how most fish eggs are collected from saltwater fish, they’re already salty and flavorful. The oldest method has the highest salt content, which manufacturers thought had to be changed.
Malossol is the best process because you can taste the real deal. It can also give each product a longer shelf-life, depending on how and where you store it. How long is also vital – every opened can or jar of caviar shouldn’t be in your refrigerator for longer than 7-10 days. Unopened, you can store caviars for between one and three months at most.
Still, it’d be best to check the label instructions for each type of caviar since some fish roe requires different preservation methods.
Which Malossol Types of Caviar Are the Best? Read More About Kaluga, Osetra, and Other Black Caviars
The most famous and sought-after caviars on the planet primarily come from fish in the Caspian Sea. This sea borders five countries: Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. Iran and Russia are two of the largest and highest-quality caviar producers.
Beluga and Osetra are native to the Caspian Sea and coincidentally considered the highest-quality caviar in the world. Choosing between these two caviars can be challenging, so you can always lean on the price to guide your decision.
Kaluga is a freshwater fish, considered the largest of its kind. Parts of its life are spent in salt water, but it’s initially found in the Amur River basin, the natural border between the Russian Far East and Northeast China.
Their fish roe can be cured with most methods, but malossol is the most frequently sold. This makes the flavor pop and come to the front. Considering Kaluga fish are near extinction, their roe is extremely valuable and cured mostly with the malossol method regarding the rarity.
There’s often a discussion about the number one caviar in the world. Some say it’s Beluga, and others swear by Osetra. They’re both black caviars, unsurpassable in their category, and can mainly be compared based on pricing.
Osetra is caviar royalty, and the malossol curing method truly makes it worth the price. The Osetra sturgeon lives in the Caspian Sea; its roe comes in various colors, from golden to deep brown. If you come across golden Osetra caviar, just know you’re in the presence of royalty.
People pay lots of money for this kind of fish roe, and what they primarily look for is the curing method. While the semi-preserved process is the most traditional, Osetra cured in the malossol method will be the most delicious fish roe you’ve ever tasted.
Non-heavily salted caviar is more prone to spoilage than semi-preserved or pasteurized kinds. This is mostly because large amounts of salt preserve ingredients better, but it depends on how you store it. Some malossol roe can last longer than others if you keep it well enough.
When caviar is served, it’s typically put in chilled bowls that retain the cold longer, or the tin is placed on a pile of ice. This means cooling the product is essential for flavor and shelf life; don’t forget to put your caviar in the fridge after you’re done with it.
As mentioned above, refrigeration is key. Store your caviar in the deeper parts of the fridge. It isn’t recommended to keep any perishable products in the refrigerator door because continuous opening and closing exposes them to temperature changes and induces quicker spoilage.
When it comes to malossol caviar, the best place to store it is the coldest area of the fridge, which is the crisp and cool drawer, also known as the meat drawer. You can also keep it on the meat rack.
The ideal fridge temperature for caviar should be between 25 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. As far as the difference between opened and unopened roe, their shelf life is significantly different. Opened fish roe should be finished in one sitting to experience the flavor fully; however, if you don’t, ensure it doesn’t stay in the fridge for longer than three days.
Unopened malossol fish roe can be stored for up to a month as long as the tin isn’t damaged. It’s possible to leave the caviar in even after a month, but expect some degradation in quality since your and the distributor’s storing methods aren’t the same.
Like any other caviar, those cured with the malossol method should be eaten alone or when paired with ingredients that highlight their flavors. The most classic pairings for fish eggs are blinis and Crème Fraiche.
It can go well with oysters and other gourmet foods like foie gras, too. However, the flavors might be too intense here, so tread lightly when combining strong-flavored foods. Cucumbers are exceptionally great pairings for caviar because they’re neutral and relatively tasteless. This way, you’ll have something to offset the strength of the caviar.
As far as drink pairing, caviar’s best friend is vodka, which is how it’s typically consumed in Russia. You can go for champagne, too, if you don’t need such a kick. Russians value and appreciate their vodka and consider it disrespectful to drink anything else with caviar.
You’ll know what excellent caviar tastes like once you’ve tried one cured with the malossol method. It’s an excellent way to lower the salt index and let the natural roe flavors come to the surface.
If you can afford it, make sure to get this type of caviar and pair it with some plain (or not so plain) ingredients to experience the richness and the luxury lifestyle. You may feel like a king for a day and make your daily meals a little more interesting.