A Taste of Refinement
While most caviar comes from Russia and Iran, there is some fine American caviar to tickle your taste buds. These include white sturgeon, paddlefish, whitefish, salmon and trout caviar. However, roe (fish eggs) from whitefish, salmon and trout is technically not caviar and must be identified as salmon caviar or trout caviar to avoid any misrepresentation. These caviars can range from pale grey to dark steel in color.
While caviar isn't a part of the typical American seafood diet, the food does enjoy a strong following among high-end consumers who are in search of an exceptional gourmet experience. Russia and Iran have historically been the major source for caviar sold in the U.S. however, this caviar can be quite expensive. In the past few years, American producers have offered several superb alternatives to Caspian caviar. The varieties of caviar, which are produced from sturgeon and paddlefish, are farmed in the U.S. are very tasty and are also environmentally sustainable. The unique roes, which come from farmed trout and wild Alaskan salmon, are also quite good and are less expensive than imported caviars. Some of the most popular American caviars include:
- White Sturgeon: White sturgeon caviar is farmed in California. Sturgeon is raised for about 10 years until it is large enough so the eggs and meat can both be used. Caviar from farmed white sturgeon is similar in taste to osetra caviar.
- Hackleback or shovelnose sturgeon is native to the Mississippi-Missouri River system. This fish produces black, intense, sweet, nutty-tasting caviar.
- Paddlefish: This fish is an endangered species and is native to North America. It is a close cousin of the sturgeon. Paddlefish produce small to medium eggs. Its color is pale gray to dark gray and is smooth, silky caviar.
- Salmon: Salted salmon caviar is available in the U.S. The eggs from chum salmon are generally considered to be the most desirable because of their tender texture and striking orange color.
- Trout: This is mainly farmed, however it's not as widely available in the U.S. Brook and rainbow trout eggs are orange and smaller than salmon caviar. Rainbow trout eggs can also be sticky.
- Whitefish: This is hand fished from northwest Montana. This caviar has a relatively mild flavor along with a rich apricot hue.