If you are looking to elevate date night or have a very special occasion, you may be considering buying and serving caviar. But, have you ever considered what real caviar is or how to even serve it?
So, how much caviar should you serve per person? On average, we would say 1-2 ounces is more than enough per person if caviar is served from a bowl. But, on canapes, only 1/2-1 ounce per person will do.
These calculations are crucial to prevent over-buying caviar (which is highly perishable by the way) and spending a fortune on way too much stock.
Today, we will look at everything you need to know when it comes to buying caviar and caviar etiquette.
This way, you can ensure that your experience is as fancy as you’d want it to be. Or, you can simply lay on the couch, treat yourself, and enjoy this delicious treat!
A Look At Caviar
Everybody has heard of caviar by now. The treat for the rich and famous! However, with ingredients becoming more accessible across the globe, these lavish eggs are now available to us common folk!
However, that still doesn’t make it an everyday treat. Just like sushi, caviar is a once-in-a-blue moon occasion.
So, if you are feeling like splurging a bit on some fancy canapes or a beautiful finger food platter, it is important to know what it will cost you. And even how much you should buy to prevent wastage.
But even more importantly, you should know what actual caviar is! Just because this ingredient is more accessible doesn’t make it less expensive. So, many companies have started making imitation caviar.
Unfortunately, the imitation part is printed in the tiniest possible font underneath the label! And, it comes at virtually the same incredibly steep price!
What Is Real Caviar?
So, real caviar, also called caviare, is an ingredient that is made from salt-cured roe. Roe is fully ripened egg masses found in the ovaries of some marine animals like fish, scallops, shrimp, squid, and sea urchins.
Caviar traditionally refers to salt-cured roe eggs from wild sturgeon found in the Black and Caspian Seas. Other specific fish species used to produce caviar include trout, salmon, whitefish, carp, or steelheads.
You can also find this ingredient in “fresh” and pasteurized forms. The fresh form is simply unpasteurized caviar.
While it may not necessarily be unhealthy, it does carry some health concerns and risks. And, fresh caviar is also generally more expensive because it is “unprocessed.”
Pasteurized caviar is considered the safest option to eat. But, many people claim the flavor isn’t the same. Personally, we haven’t noticed a difference. But then again, it’s not like we eat this every day!
This ingredient is considered to be a delicacy because of how it is obtained. Hence, the expensive price tag that comes along with these tiny pearls.
What Is Fake Caviar?
The reason we have to discuss fake caviar or caviar substitutes is because of the difference in quality, availability, and price. Essentially, every element of these two types (real and fake caviar) are different!
You may be able to buy more fake caviar at a lower price. But, the quality will be lower and the experience may not be the same. So, it is important to know what you are getting yourself into.
Legally, a lot of countries and institutes have declared that “real caviar” only comes from fish in the sturgeon family. Anything else is considered to be substitution caviar.
Furthermore, the term has been introduced into the culinary world to refer more to caviar-shaped ingredients than actual real caviar. For example, molecular gastronomy uses a technique called spherification.
This technique essentially creates caviar-like pearls made from ANY flavored liquid, including fruit juice. But, the term “caviar” is misleadingly used to help sell certain dishes in restaurants.
So, always check the packaging to ensure that the caviar you are buying is what you want. If you need real caviar, you will pay a hefty price, but, make sure it is actual caviar.
So, How Much Caviar To Serve Per Person?
Now, to a large extent, the way you serve caviar will ultimately determine how much you need to serve per person. But, if you are hosting an event or special occasion and need numbers, we would work on the averages below.
To serve caviar by itself (in a bowl with a spoon), we would recommend serving 1-2 ounces per person. This comes to roughly 30-50 grams.
But, if you are using it as a topping or garnish for a bunch of canapes, you can work on an average of 1/2-1 ounce of caviar per person.
We would say that these averages apply to both real and fake caviar. However, you will see a massive difference in price at the end of the day.
How Many Different Types Of Caviar To Serve?
If you truly want to make the experience special, we would recommend splurging a bit on different types of caviar. This will give you and your guests the opportunity to directly compare the different flavors, textures, and even pairings.
And, you don’t have to buy double the amount you have calculated using our averages above. The total amount of caviar can be divided between the number of different types you choose.
What Is Caviar Etiquette?
So, if you are an average Joe like us, you probably also have no idea how to “correctly” eat caviar. And trust us, we have personally received some dirty looks! There is a correct way to eat caviar!
And, if you are the one serving caviar to guests, don’t feel shy to explain the proper etiquette to them. After all, you are treating them to a very special experience. So, you may as well educate them a little in the process.
Traditionally, a mother of pearl spoons is used to serve caviar in little bowls. But, plastic spoons have become more acceptable for large events. But, stay away from metal spoons as they do affect the flavor.
Another very important rule is portioning. This is more important if you are at a fancy event or dinner. But, never eat too much caviar. About two spoonfuls of caviar are more than enough.
You should also only take small bites at a time. This also helps you savor the moment and delicate flavor. Remember, it is expensive. So, once it’s finished, it’s finished.
Here is a more comprehensive tutorial on how to eat caviar properly from Kirby Allison on YouTube.
How To Serve Caviar
Caviar can be served in many ways. Traditionally, it is either served in small bowls with mother of pearl spoons, or on traditional dishes (like cream cheese and smoked salmon canape).
If you are serving it inside a bowl, you should preferably place it inside a bowl of ice. While it may be frowned upon (depending on the event) you can serve the caviar directly out of its tin or container.
But, not many people actually realize how versatile caviar is. You can even incorporate it into something as common as hand-cut chips with a creme fraiche dipping sauce. Or, you can incorporate it into a delicious ocean-themed platter!
If you are looking for some drink pairings, the expensive ones also always seem to be a hit! Champagne or sparkling wines pair well with the creamy pearls and surprisingly so does vodka.
You can also go for some light red wines like Grenache or Pinot Noir. Alternatively, citrus and fruity white wine will do the trick!
How To Store Caviar
Another thing people don’t often realize about caviar is that it is highly perishable despite being cured.
However, when you really think about it, it is still fresh fish eggs. Once the container is open or the seal has been broken, bacteria thrive on them!
So, the best way to store your leftover caviar is inside a glass airtight container. And no, there is no substitute. It should only be glass.
This material can be sterilized which will prevent the delicate ingredient from absorbing other flavors and odors.
Then, you should also store your caviar inside the fridge underneath ice packs. This will help lower the temperature to roughly 32-35ºF (0-1.6ºC). At this temperature, you can preserve the quality for the longest time.
If you don’t have ice packs, store the caviar at the back of the fridge.
Once your tin of caviar has been opened, you have to use it within 2 days. Anything longer and the quality will simply be lacking. However, we doubt that you will have any left if you are serving it at an event.
Now, if you have unopened caviar, you can follow all of the steps mentioned above. Your caviar should still be able to last roughly 4 weeks unopened.