Beluga caviar is considered the best caviar and is one of the most expensive types of caviar in the world. It comes from the sturgeons ready for slaughter, which come exclusively from the Black Sea. This sturgeon species is the so-called European house, which is also called Beluga sturgeon. The approximately 3.5 mm large eggs are taken from the female specimens and refined. The color of beluga caviar is light gray to dark anthracite and is characterized by a mild, almost creamy, creamy taste. The price per kilo goes up to 6,000 euros.
Beluga caviar is a cross between the Beluga (Huso dauricus) and the Amur sturgeon (Acipenser schrenckii). This results in a special type of caviar that comes close to beluga caviar in taste and quality. These types of caviar are also visually similar. Beluga caviar is also known for its very soft and supple pearls, which can reach a size of up to 3.5 millimetres or more. The price per kilo is between 800 and 1000 euros per kilogram.
The most popular caviar comes from China
Oddly enough, China produces some of the most popular fish eggs. If you mention China in relation to food, people get nervous. After international incidents involving bleach-soaked meat, frosted apple juice, and “pine nuts unsuitable for human consumption,” the country is known for repeated quality control scandals for spoiled food, “says Shaun Rein, executive director of the China Market Research Group. Although no one wants to say, China produces some of the most popular fish eggs. However, Russian caviar production is growing day by day. It preserves the genuine taste and methods of caviar processing and thus is considered more valuable caviar by the restaurateurs and true caviar lovers.
However, since most consumers still associate Chinese brands with inexpensive knockoffs, the origin of the Chinese Beluga Queen caviar is rarely mentioned. Alexandre Petrossian, the vice president of the eponymous caviar supplier, sells Beluga queen-sourced products in the company’s boutiques worldwide but doesn’t label the caviar as Chinese on its cans, where 30 grams can average $ 150.
Russia and Iran have long dominated the caviar export market and harvested the delicious eggs from the Beluga sturgeon in the Caspian Sea. Overfishing there eventually ended up on the endangered species list, disappearing as a supply. Other nations like Japan, Israel and China have started to fill the gap.
“The export of Chinese caviar is booming due to sanctions and limited deliveries from Iran and Russia,” says Rein. “Many restaurateurs buy Chinese caviar because of its good quality, reasonable price and abundant stocks.”
Being one of the world leaders, Beluga Queen is worth to be considered as a strong brand. Beluga Queen produces 60 tons of caviar a year, making it the world’s largest producer, according to the company. It sells five species, but Petrossian’s bestseller is Huso Hybrid ($ 210 for 30g), which comes from a cross between Beluga and Amur sturgeon.
The fish are bred in Zhejiang province in China, where the Huangshan Mountains supply fresh, cold water to the man-made Qiandao Lake (see photo). Every sturgeon has an identification number, and each has a code that allows customers to understand the colour of the fish and the results of its regular build.
Although Petrossian knows that his company carries out several quality controls every year: “We check the water, the fish. With everything we get from China, we make sure that it meets our standards. The Huso Hybrid caviar has proven itself in the tasting as exquisite. The large gray eggs have a slightly salty taste and a great pop.
The global caviar production
On the production of caviar: Most of the wild caviar comes from either Russian or Iranian production, and wild sturgeons are now only found in large numbers in the Caspian and the Black Sea. Iran, in particular, shows great interest in preserving the species: small sturgeons raised in breeding programs are exposed to the sea throughout the year. You will be caught about eight years later when the animals return to the place where they were abandoned to spawn for the first time.
Nevertheless, there are much smaller fishing areas in other regions, e.g. Beluga sturgeon (Huso dauricus) (a hybrid of Amur and Beluga sturgeon) are caught on the European Atlantic and Adriatic coasts, in Japan and China, and in North America, there is the coveted American (white) sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) on the other hand also wild stocks of sturgeon.
The basic principles of caviar production have not changed significantly over the centuries: in the caviar production process, the caught fish are brought ashore (live) in large aquariums, weighed and immediately assigned a registration number – this can be traced later which animal the caviar comes from.
The sturgeon is then killed by a targeted head blow and washed several times. In some cases, processes have also been developed that only anaesthetize the animals – the higher the quality of caviar, the livelier the sturgeon from which it comes. The raw caviar is removed under extremely strict hygienic conditions in special preparation rooms.
The rye bags with the unfertilized eggs (approx. 800,000 to 3,000,000 pieces/fish) are removed, degreased, weighed again and pressed through a coarse-mesh hemp sieve (mesh size 4.0 to 6.0 mm) to remove unwanted tissue parts and the slime remove the ovaries. The batch is then carefully washed again with seawater and assigned to a certain quality level according to the criteria of colour, strength and size of the grain (in Iran there are only the 1st quality and 2nd quality levels). To make the raw caviar more durable, it is salted in the next step; Depending on the country of origin, about 2.8 to 4.0% dry salt is added to the caviar. When filling into the approx. 1.8 kg original cans, the excess brine is drawn off, with about 40% of the liquid remaining in the grain to prevent the caviar from drying out.
The cans are provided with the registration number of the processed sturgeon and sealed before the caviar is exported all over the world. This way, you can always see whether the caviar was produced legally.