Osetra caviar is one of the most prestigious and sought after delicacies in all of cuisine. Osetra caviar is produced from the sturgeon fish, which has been fished for centuries and is found in rivers that flow through Europe and Asia.
Osetra caviars are more delicate than other caviars because they have a lower salt content and their eggs are smaller.
The flavor of this caviar ranges from buttery to nutty flavors with hints of citrus or seafood-like tastes depending on what region it comes from.
What Is Osetra Caviar?
Caviar is cured or salted fish eggs, or roe, that come from various types of sturgeon. Authentic caviar is not to be confused with other kinds of roe, like ikura, because they are not sourced from sturgeon.
There are several caviar species available – beluga, sevruga, sterlet and osetra. We are going to focus on osetra, also spelled ossetra, asetra and oscietra.
So, what is Osetra caviar? Osetra caviar is caviar that comes from the osetra sturgeon. The osetra sturgeon is also known as the Russian, Danube or diamond sturgeon.
This bottom-feeding fish grows to an impressive size, weighing in around 250 pounds. It can live up to 50 years and has a low reproduction rate. Osetra sturgeons are endangered in the wild due to over-fishing and therefore a rare commodity.
Osetra caviar is one of the most sought after and expensive caviars on the market. It comes second to beluga caviar. The roe harvested from the osetra is medium to large in size and has a variety of shades, including black, brown, gray and gold.
Types Of Osetra Caviar
There are a few types of osetra caviar to choose from, each with its own place on the scale of quality.
There are 3 types of Osetra caviar, Imperial, Royal or Classic. The age, size and genetic features of the fish determine the size, color, taste and texture of its roe. These are the features that help experts classify and rank osetra caviar as either Imperial, Royal or Classic.
The highest ranking osetra caviar, Imperial, is recognized by its unusual golden color, larger size, firmness and deep, unique flavor. Being highly ranked makes it highly valued and priced.
Next in line comes Royal, with slightly smaller globes with a juicy texture and an olive / brown / gray hue, sometimes called ‘amber’.
If you’re looking to save money but still experience luxury, try Classic osetra caviar. The firm medium-sized eggs are black / dark brown and still deserve praise for their heavenly taste.
Golden Osetra Caviar
As mentioned above, golden osetra caviar is a rare find and is naturally produced in only a handful of true Russian osetra sturgeon (scientific name: Acipenser Gueldentsaedtii) found in the Caspian Sea.
Golden Osetra caviar is caviar from osetra sturgeon where the eggs are large, golden, firm and separated. Golden Osetra caviar has a smooth, rich taste and are savored by the most discriminating of culinary experts and members of high society.
What Does Osetra Caviar Taste Like?
Osetra caviar is the second-highest ranking caviar in the world. The pearly orbs are medium to large in size and are firm in texture.
Gourmets describe osetra caviar as having a smooth, buttery taste, subtly salty, with a nutty, bold flavor that’s sure to be memorable.
Where Does Osetra Caviar Come From?
The Russian osetra sturgeon is the source of osetra caviar. Where does this huge prehistoric fish originate from?
Originally wild osetra sturgeon comes from the Caspian Sea, which is an exceptional pollution-free body of water surrounded by Iran, Russia and Kazakhstan, among other nations.
Osetra populations have drastically declined due to over-fishing and poaching.
Despite efforts to repopulate the sea, aqua farms have been established all over the planet to counteract this reduction in sturgeon and boost the availability of caviar. There isn’t an overly noticeable difference in taste between wild and farmed caviar. However, you may notice that wild caviar has a more complex, robust taste and farmed caviar has a more consistent flavor.
How Much Does Osetra Caviar Cost?
The cost of the caviar depends on the type, or classification and differs from store to store. Caviar has a reputation for being overpriced and only for the richest of the rich who can splurge at the drop of a hat. Although it truly is pricey, there is quite a range in cost for osetra caviar, the second most popular caviar in the world.
Unlike the extortionate Almas beluga caviar, you won’t have to pay $1000 USD for one ounce of osetra, your money vanishing after a couple of savory swallows.
For one ounce of high ranking Imperial osetra caviar, you might pay over $200 USD. Meanwhile, for Classic Russian osetra caviar, the price may be closer to $60.
These high prices are due to the fact that osetra sturgeon is a rare, endangered creature that is non-renewable. It takes years for this animal to grow and develop to a suitable reproductive age and even then, it does not reproduce as often as other fish. The harvesting techniques take much investment, effort and expertise. Protecting their wild populations requires global cooperation and sacrifice.
Now that sturgeons are being farmed in several nations and aqua farms are improving the supply chain, the caviar industry has a better chance of meeting more demand and perhaps lowering the market rate as time marches on.
Where To Buy Osetra Caviar?
From Costco to gourmet grocery markets, from online shops to high-end distributors specializing solely in fine caviar, Osetra caviar can be found in a variety of places.
Take care when ordering from the internet. If you aren’t able to use your five senses to judge the quality of a caviar, it’s best to follow recommendations and order small samples to be sure of exceptional quality.
Some reputable international sellers of caviar include Browne Trading Company, Marky’s, Imperial Caviar, Caviar House and Prunier, Caviar Centre and Caviar Russe.
Domestic and International shipping may be affected by COVID-19 lockdown protocol, so be sure to read the fine print when ordering.
Serving Osetra Caviar
If you happen to get a hold of osetra caviar and want to do your investment justice, you’ll need to serve it properly. Here are some tips from caviar gurus.
First, in order to fully appreciate any fine caviar, it must be eaten cold. And by that, we mean very cold. It freezes below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep it in the coldest part of your fridge during storage. We suggest either keeping it in its original container, or gently placing the caviar into a non-metallic bowl or dish, and nestling this over ice to keep the roe chilled.
The reason metal should be avoided is that oxidation might transfer a metallic taste to the caviar, ruining the purity of the flavor. Glass, porcelain or even plastic is preferable to metal.
If you want to heighten the caviar experience, you will find a variety of gorgeous specialty caviar bowls on the market. Usually glass or ceramic, they are sometimes surrounded by a decorative and jewelled metal surround. This will transform your experience into a feast for the palate and the eyes!
The spoon you use with the caviar must not be metal either. Traditionally, caviar spoons were made of mother-of-pearl, but feel free to substitute this with a bone, wood, ceramic, glass or plastic utensil.
The best way to appreciate the taste of osetra caviar is to sample it solo. If you want to serve it with something, you could try a Russian staple: tiny pancakes called ‘blinis’. Alternatively, you may consider spreading your scrumptious osetra on toast or crackers. Other options include enjoying it with hard-boiled eggs, sour cream, chives or chopped onions.
As for beverages, traditionally a dry Champagne pairs well with quality caviar. It adds to the festive nature of this unique treat. Russian vodka will go well with caviar – and cleanse your palate too. Finally, a white wine such as Chardonnay or Blanc de Noir is also a great match for osetra caviar.
How To Eat Osetra Caviar
Is there a correct way to consume this extravagant product? Yes, if you want to capitalize on the acquisition of your culinary treasure, you might as well do it right.
Again, the best way to eat osetra caviar, or any caviar for that matter is to eat it straight up. Even if you have a lovely arrangement of other foods laid out, at least take a moment to sample it alone with the help of your non-metallic spoon.
Of course, caviar is consumed in small, dainty amounts, so you won’t exactly be shovelling it in like a sumo wrestler in training.
Here is how to eat osetra caviar:
- Inhale the fragrance of the caviar on your spoon.
- When you move on to the actual tasting, hold it on your tongue for a while so you can take note of the complex flavors and texture of the precious pearls in your mouth.
- Avoid chewing before you swallow and simply allow the gloves to burst in your mouth.
- After you swallow, relish the subtle, lingering effect on your taste buds before sipping your drink.
Is Osetra Caviar Good?
Yes, Osetra caviar is good. Osetra caviar is considered by food connoisseurs to be the second-best caviar in the world.
Its sky-high position in the gastronomy world is due to a number of factors.
The taste of osetra is almost beyond comparison. The creamy, rich, nutty flavor of the large, firm pearls is a combination that’s hard to beat. Its shiny globes come in a range of colors, including the extremely unusual golden / olive shades of golden osetra caviar. This exclusive find is at the top of the osetra caviar price range and was historically reserved for Russian royalty.
In addition to the unique taste and texture of osetra caviar, its rarity means that the demand far outnumbers the supply. Wild Russian sturgeon, the species from which osetra caviar comes, is endangered thanks to decades of over-harvesting and rising consumption rates.
Now there are protective procedures and controls in place in an effort to prevent extinction, as well as a growing fish cultivation industry.
All this makes osetra caviar a valuable and beloved culinary item.
Is Osetra Caviar Kosher?
For those who follow traditional Jewish customs, adhering to a kosher diet is a daily religious observance. There is a list of dos and don’ts relating to kosher food preparation and eating. One of these rules centres around seafood.
In order to be ritually clean and suitable for consumption, kosher seafood must have visible and easily removable fins and scales.
Which camp does the sturgeon fall into? Traditionally, the sturgeon (including osetra) has not been considered kosher. Juvenile sturgeon start off with scales that they lose as they mature. These scales develop into bony plates (a type of scale) that are not easily removed by hand or instrument.
A small number of Jewish experts would argue that these fish are kosher because they do have scales.
Osetra caviar is not kosher because the bony scales of sturgeon can’t be taken off without damaging the skin of the fish. Not only is all sturgeon off-limits to kosher eaters, but its roe is not acceptable either.
However, for those of you on a kosher diet, don’t lose heart. Kosher caviar does exist. Despite the fact that authentic caviar comes only from sturgeon species, there are some caviar varieties that use the roe of kosher fish such as salmon and whitefish.
Is caviar acceptable in other restrictive diets? Although it is not vegan, true caviar is gluten-free and keto-friendly.
Is Osetra Caviar Shellfish?
Shellfish come in two types: crustaceans such as shrimp, crab and lobster, and mollusks, such as squid, oysters and scallops. It is quite common for people to have shellfish allergies and it’s important to note that they might be allergic to one type or another, as well as both types of shellfish.
How about osetra caviar? Osetra Caviar is derived from fish eggs and is not considered shellfish.
However, keep in mind that roe allergies do exist, so it is possible for someone to have a potentially serious reaction to caviar.
Enjoy exploring osetra caviar and savor the unique flavor, texture and luxury of this culinary gift.