Russians love Caviar (икра), and there are many different ways of enjoying this delicacy. Nothing says luxury like caviar. Perfect for all sorts of party celebrations from New Years Eve, an intimate Valentines Day indulgence or a weekend champagne brunch. If you ever wondered how to eat caviar or thought about caviar serving ideas, then this post is for you. Make all these caviar recipes for a tasty food board, like a charcuterie board, but for caviar!
What is Caviar?
First of all, don't be scared of caviar. Maybe you bought a tin for a celebration but don't know how to use it. You've come to the right place for serving suggestions. Serving caviar is easy, from enjoying it by itself, to serving on a large caviar platter appetizers.
Yes, caviar is fish eggs, called roe, which is traditionally found in sturgeons in the Caspian Sea. Beluga, Sterlet, Ossetra and Sevruga are all popular Russian caviars. The caviar is salt cured and usually sold in tins or sometimes in glass jars. Traditionally served as zakuski, or appetizers before your dinner meal. I like to serve caviar with my Smoked Salmon Appetizers. Real caviar is very expensive and can cost hundreds of dollars per ounces.
Depending on where you are in the world, depends on if you can find Russian caviar. Some countries have banned Caspian Sea Caviar imports while stocks improve. Caviar is delicious and like most things, the more you pay, the better it tastes.
Most edible fish eggs or fish roe are now called caviar, which not technically correct. The cheapest caviar you can find in stores is a lumpfish caviar, it's inexpensive and the eggs are usually dyed red or black, depending what the supplier requires. So, not real caviar, but it still makes us feel a little bit fancy.
What's the Difference Between Red or Black Caviar?
Technically, the black Caviar that comes from fish roe of a sturgeon is considered real caviar. It's naturally black, brown or shades of grey or sometimes gold in color. Red Caviar is roe from Salmon, trout or other fish. They are all fish roe, but come from different species of fish, and have different flavors. The cheaper the caviar, the more "fishy" it seems to taste. More expensive caviar should taste buttery, and taste like the ocean. All caviar is salty, and there are many ways to enjoy it.
Caviar Rules (Things you should know)
This heading might seem a bit harsh, but there are some rules that need to be observed for the best caviar experience. It's especially true when you're spending the big bucks on real caviar.
- Don't use a metal spoon! That might sound a bit strange, but caviar is traditionally served with a Mother of Pearl spoon. You can also use a gold spoon, but who has that lying around. A crystal or ceramic spoon works. Why? The flavors of the caviar is delicate and can react with metal or silver spoons. If I buy cheap caviar, I don't bother because most of the time it's not real caviar and the taste won't be impacted. If you are buying real caviar, follow this rule.
- Always serve the caviar cold, with the caviar tin placed on crushed ice. There are caviar serving bowls out there, which are basically glass nesting bowls that you can fill with ice. I don't transfer the caviar from the tin it came from, as I don't want to damage the delicate eggs. I just grab a small bowl, fill with crushed ice, and place the caviar when I'm ready to serve.
- Eat the caviar in one sitting. This is kind of more of my rule. Technically, caviar can go back into the fridge for up to 3 days after opening, but air starts to negatively impact the caviar. Why would you risk it, and there isn't a lot of caviar. Just enjoy it all at once.
- Keep the caviar refrigerated as cold as you can, in the back of the fridge. Sturgeon Caviar only lasts about 6 weeks unopened, under the right conditions, and depending on how long your supplier has had it (please ask) will depend how long you can keep it fresh in the fridge.
- How many servings of caviar for a single person? Real Caviar is usually sold in 1oz or 30 gram tins, and each tin serves 1-2 people. Because it's so expensive, it's enjoyed sparingly.
How to Eat Caviar?
There are many ways to eat caviar, so I will share a few of my favorites. When I buy the expensive caviar, I like to eat it naturally, without anything, served on the back of my hand. Only a small amount at a time, no more than a teaspoon. Eating caviar this way ensures you enjoy the real flavor without any additions. Even a spoon has a flavor profile, and you don't want anything to interfere with the real flavor.
Bread and Butter - Russian style
Not all caviar is fancy, and I like to enjoy the more affordable supermarket or Russian store caviar this way. Just slice a piece of your favorite bread (I use a baguette or Russian Black Rye). Generously slather with butter, don't use margarine. Spread a layer of caviar over the buttered bread. It's a caviar sandwich. It might sound a bit strange, but trust me, it's delicious.
The generously spread butter and bread balances out the sharper taste of the cheaper caviar, trust me, it works! We eat this on a Saturday morning brunch, or just as an appetizer with our zakuski when we have people over for dinner.
Caviar on Eggs
So this is an easy way to make Caviar appetizers. I hard boil some eggs, peel, cool and slice them in half. Carefully scoop out the egg yolks, mash in a bowl, add enough Japanese Mayo until they are creamy and smooth. Spoon the egg yolks back into the shell of the egg whites. Top with a spoonful of black caviar and garnish with fresh dill. Super easy, creamy and delicious.
Caviar on Blinis
This is my favorite way to eat caviar, on small yeasty blinis. You will need a hard boiled egg, onion, sour cream or smetana, and fresh dill. Some people don't like introducing flavors to caviar, but I enjoy how the flavors go together. I use store bought blinis, which are like small appetizer size, yeasty pancakes, often make with buckwheat. Caviar Blinis are the base, then you build your flavors. You can also add caviar into the large traditional blini, but this won't look like the appetizer.
Hard boil an egg, separate the cooked egg white and yolks and finely chop. If you semi-freeze your egg yolk, you can grate it on a fine grater. This presents better on the plate, and keeps the egg yolk shape better instead of a crumbled egg yolk. Finely dice a red onion, and keep some fresh dill handy for flavor and garnish. Russians use Smetana or sour cream, and homemade Sour Cream always tastes better.
To build your Caviar Blini, start with a generous dollop of sour cream on the blinis, and then layer your favorite ingredients. I usually add everything, some chopped egg yolk, egg white, onions, fresh dill and complete with a spoonful of black caviar. Some people add a squeeze from a lemon wedge for a citrus kick. Experiment with your favorite flavor combos, so many things that accompany caviar.
Don't Chew Your Caviar
I know this sounds like a strange statement, but resist the urge to chew and try to pop the caviar in your mouth. The flavor receptors are on your tongue, so gently swirl the caviar around your mouth to get the most flavor.
What to Drink with Caviar
To fully enjoy the flavor of each bite of caviar, you need a palate cleanser. When eating Russian Caviar, it's usually accompanied with Russian Vodka. You will often find a bottle of vodka served alongside caviar on a Russian's table. Some people say you need to start eating caviar with a glass of vodka before you start eating, others will have a shot between bites.
Drinking champagne with caviar is also very popular. The saying "Champagne wishes and caviar dreams" was from the show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and they do accompany each other well. If you are going to the expense of buying real caviar, then I suggest buying real champagne to make your evening special. Whatever champagne or sparkling wine you choose, make sure that it is a dry champagne and not sweet. Dry champagne pairs well with caviar.
If you don't drink, no problem! Take a bite of bread as a palate cleanser. Just a bite is all you need to cleanse the palate, and you can enjoy your next bite of caviar.
- Buy the most expensive caviar you can afford for the best tasting experience
- Never use a metal spoon! Plan ahead and order a mother of pearl spoon online, they should only cost $5, and makes a good conversation starter for the evening
- Always serve caviar cold, never at room temperature
- Partially freeze the cooked egg yolk, so it's easier to grate. Egg yolks are crumbly, and this method helps maintain a shape, so it looks nicer when serving
- If you don't have a red onion, use a regular yellow onion, but place in boiling water for 2 minutes and strain. This will remove the bite that can overpower the flavor
- Substitute sour cream with creme fraiche
- Make a caviar platter by adding caviar to your favorite appetizers
How to eat caviar? Wonder no more! It's easy to serve caviar, from a special occasion or a weekend brunch, enjoy these great ideas to accompany your caviar. Nothing beats real Russian caviar, because it's rare, it's even more appealing to try. Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams to you all! Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- 1 oz black Caviar
- 6 small blini pancakes
- 1 hard boiled egg
- ¼ red onion very finely diced
- sour cream or smetana
- lemon wedges optional
- fresh dill
Blini with Caviar
- Keep the caviar refrigerated until ready to serve. When serving, serve by placing caviar tin in a bowl of crushed ice to keep cold.
- To hard boil the egg, place in a saucepan with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover with a lid. Set timer for 12 minutes. Drain and place in cold water to cool. Peel egg and slice in half and separate the egg yolk and egg white. Separetely finely dice the egg white and separately grate the egg yolk.
- Finely dice the red onion, as small as you can.
- Prepare your caviar plate by placing the iced caviar, surrounded by grated egg yolk, egg whites, diced onion, sour cream, dill and optional lemon wedges.
- You're now ready to build your own Blini with Caviar. Spread sour cream on the blinis, add a bit of egg yolk, egg whites, onion and dill, then top with caviar. Enjoy!
Russian Caviar Sandwiches
- Slice a baguette or a piece of Russian Black Rye Bread
- Generously butter the bread, so you see the butter on top of the bread. Do not use margarine.
- Spread black or red caviar over the bread and enjoy your open face caviar sandwich.