For many home cooks, simple recipes (preferably those that can be completed in under 20 minutes) with 10 or fewer ingredients can be the smartest and easiest approach. This involves seeking out flavor-packed ingredients that are guaranteed to impress dinner guests with minimal effort. One of those ingredients happens to be caviar, because anything with a dollop of caviar on it seems endlessly chic, timeless, and luxurious. The trick to cooking with caviar is to not overspend, after all, there are many types of caviar that come with debt-inducing price tags. Fortunately for caviar lovers, there are great options for domestically bred caviar, meaning delicious options at every price point. Below, you’ll find various types of caviar, where to find them and three pared-back recipes that become simpler thanks to its inclusion.
What to Look For
The price of caviar is determined by its rarity, not necessarily its quality, so don’t be shy about testing out lesser expensive kinds of caviar. Since 2005 all commercially raised caviar must be farm raised, further ensuring a better control of quality and diversity of origin. That said, the quality of caviar is evaluated on four characteristics: size, color, flavor, and texture. When it comes to size, bigger is better, as is a lighter, and more transparent color, likely due to its rarity. High-quality caviar should have a smooth texture, an effervescent pop, with a nutty and buttery flavor that is salty and savory on the palate.
Common Types of Caviar
Beluga: Caviar sourced from Beluga Sturgeon raised in the Caspian Sea that has a color ranging from light gray to dark gray with a distinct, delicate and buttery flavor. $$$
Siberian Caviar: Farm raised Siberian Sturgeon that is raised in the icy waters created to mimic the fish’s natural habitat. $$
California White Sturgeon: Caviar beads that range in color from platinum to amber with nutty flavor and a buttery finish. $$
Osetra Caviar: Large bead caviar with a range of color from gold to amber with a rich buttery and briny flavor. $$
Trout Roe: Bright orange beads that have a gratifying pop and a sweet, salty taste. $
Whitefish Roe: Golden small pearls with a clean and crisp flavor. $
Salmon Roe: Salmon Roe, also known as Ikura, is the roe commonly used in sushi, and has a rich orange hue with a bright, salty flavor. $
Three Simple, Reductionist Recipes with Caviar
Caviar on Eggs
There is nothing more appealing than a plate of perfectly cooked scrambled eggs topped with shimmering black pearly caviar. This recipe is simple, but is a timeless, decadent, and elegant breakfast. (Adapted from Serious Eats.)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1-2 oz caviar
¼ oz sour cream
¼ oz diced chives
Instructions: Whisk eggs with salt in a bowl. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add eggs and let cook, consistently stirring to avoid burning. Add heavy cream and continue to stir the egg mixture until combined and softly cooked. Plate when cooked to preference, serve with a large dollop of sour cream, caviar, and a sprinkle of diced chives.
Purple Potato Chips, Crème Fraiche, and Caviar
Potato chips and caviar have are a go-to entertaining trick—an easy but endlessly impressive spread for any party no matter the season. Budget depending, the party’s caviar choice ranges from Whitefish Roe to Oestra Caviar, but without fail the flavor combination of fat, salt, and creamy dairy is an unstoppable combination.
1 bag purple potato chips
½ cup crème fraiche
3 oz caviar
Serve potato chips in a large bowl along with a small bowl of crème fraiche. Serve your caviar on ice to keep it cool through cocktail hour.
Lemon Capellini and Caviar
Even the simplest of recipes deserves a little dressing up, and in this case, dressing up comes in the form of tiny, salty eggs. (Adapted from Ina Garten.)
1 pound dried Capellini
½ pound unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3 lemons, 2 juiced and zested, one zested for garnish
5 oz caviar
In a pot, boil water with a drizzle of olive oil. Add capellini pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, and add the pasta to a bowl, toss with melted butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and ground pepper. Plate into six servings, top with a large dollop of fresh caviar.Garnish with fresh lemon zest.
Seattle Caviar: Seattle’s essential hub for caviar, Seattle Caviar supplies the city’s best restaurants. Fortunately for bon vivants worldwide, Seattle Caviar also provisions delicacies such as seasonal fresh truffles, foie gras, and champagne.
The Caviar Co: A San Francisco-based company that has its own brand of caviar available in their shop as well as online.
Petrossian: New York knows its best caviar comes from Petrossian, the family owned business on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. They have an incredible selection of fresh caviar as well as an impressive selection of smoked fish, charcuterie, and decadent desserts.
Images by Emily Arden Wells