Perhaps the most expensive food in the world, caviar has been the iconic treat of the rich and successful for centuries. The small, black balls are fish eggs – the most exclusive and expensive being those belonging to the beluga sturgeon. The beluga sturgeon is, however, dwindling in numbers, so many alternatives are now very popular substitutes. There are an numerous recipes that use caviar in them, but if you want to get the full, undiluted caviar experience then follow our purist's guide.
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Keep your caviar in the fridge until just before you want to serve it. Freshness is key. When it comes to serving, use a crystal or glass bowl sitting on a bed of ice. Some say you can serve straight from the tin or jar, by simply placing it on a bed of ice, but if you're serving caviar you're obviously trying to impress, so get your best crystal out. Keep it covered until the last minute.
Keep it simple and avoid things that will smother the taste of your caviar. Use toast, crackers or blinis to serve it on. A lot of serving suggestions recommend using sour crème or eggs, but don't do this unless you don't have great caviar or you're simply too rich and have become bored of eating caviar on its own. Creme fraiche is fairly commonly used, so if you really do need something extra, use this.
Caviar aficionados say you should never use a metal spoon to serve caviar because the metal taints the delicate flavour. A mother of pearl spoon is seen as the appropriate alternative, but anything other than metal will do, like bone or – God forbid – even plastic at a push. Keeping the lid of the caviar container nearby is customary.
The pleasure of eating caviar is, in part, due to the way the eggs burst in your mouth, releasing their unique flavour. Don't hurriedly chow them down, but try and burst the balls by pushing them against the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
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