December 15, 2009 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I want me some fish eggs.

I've had caviar about twice in my life and loved it, the last time about ten years ago. Now and then I see it, I want it, I look at the tiny jar, I freeze in horror at the price.

But I've had ten years with 'oh my god, I couldn't possibly!' and now I want some.

I don't have a good supplier locally. So I want to know a) what's a reputable place I can order from online, b) what are the best value caviars (sustainable is also something I care about) and c) tell me fun things to do with it.

It's possible to talk me into spending more, but I'd prefer to keep it $100/oz, or less, and it would be kind of cool if I could find a supplier and price that didn't mean I had to wait another ten years before ordering again.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can't go wrong with Tsar Nicoulai. It's sustainable and it's worth it. Or Rio Frio is very good, but I think it is only available if you're in Europe.

Unfortunately, sustainable caviar is often farmed, and the length of time and care that it takes to produce mature female fish is very costly. This keeps caviar prices on the high side. Wild caviar is not really an ethical option, nor even a legal one in the US, as wild caviar imports have been severely curtailed in accordance with CITES. You can read a little about that here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:47 PM on December 15, 2009

Best answer: I know the real deal is exquisite but have you also looked into roe? We eat it often and it's lovely, plus you can do really wasteful things with it you wouldn't do with caviar, like put it in omlettes with sour cream or eat it on bagels with cream cheese. Yum.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:58 PM on December 15, 2009

Assouline & Roth is great, not sure what they did with Ting.
posted by fixedgear at 6:17 PM on December 15, 2009

Seconding Tsar Nicoulai. When I worked at Whole Foods, we had regular visits from one of their reps, and she was great - very good at teaching the Specialty dept. staff all about caviar, . And samples, of course. Lots of samples. I don't even like caviar very much, but I wouldn't say no to theirs. I don't know if Whole Foods outside California carry it, but since they ship, that's not an issue.
posted by rtha at 6:43 PM on December 15, 2009

If you live near any major metropolis in the midwest or east coast, you should be able to easily be able to find a Russian store that carries the stuff. Our city isn't huge but there are three or four Russian corner grocery stores that carry a good variety of caviar.
posted by JJ86 at 7:02 AM on December 16, 2009

BTW, blini with caviar and creme is very traditional and delicious.
posted by JJ86 at 7:10 AM on December 16, 2009

Sorry to step in again, but I wanted to add that if you are going to buy Russian or Iranian caviar make sure that it is farm raised. There is still some Caspian Sea wild sevruga and oscetra available to the US, but there have been studies that indicate pesticides and other organochlorines in Caspian caviar. There is also the continued problem of the lack of a management plan that the countries surrounding the Caspian can agree on, which darkens the future of Caspian sturgeon somewhat. Compounding all of these problems are the ongoing lucrative caviar smuggling operations which can muddy the line between honest, sustainable caviar and criminally poached endangered species.

Caviar love is a rocky road, but it is entirely worth it. I would love to hear what you wind up with and get your impression of what you get. Drop me a memail if you can.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:17 PM on December 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. After I've rested up from submitting my caviar AskMe I'll do an actual order, after Christmas, so it's less embarrassing that I'm ordering myself a hundred dollars (or more) worth of fish eggs. We'll keep it between us, okay?

I'll try tsar nicoulai and I'll try the roe from Amazon, if for no other reason than I think it would be hilarious to get a box of fish eggs from Amazon.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:00 AM on December 17, 2009

Heh. Try the Black Capelin Caviar, which you can also get on Amazon. It's very snappy and we serve it by the boatload for Christmas parties, etc. Nom nom nom.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:27 PM on December 17, 2009

I know the real deal is exquisite but have you also looked into roe?

DarlingBri, "roe" is simply the term for marine animal eggs. Salmon, sturgeon, catfish, and even shrimp lay roe. (Guppies and sharks do not; they give birth live.)

What you are referencing is salmon roe, aka ikura. And, yes, it's delicious.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:14 PM on December 20, 2009

Did I mistakenly call it kangaroo roe or something?
posted by DarlingBri at 6:37 AM on December 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

No, but suggesting someone try "roe" instead of caviar is analogous to suggest someone drive a car instead of a corvette.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:20 AM on December 21, 2009

Don't buy the jars in grocery stores. It's mostly the cheap stuff with food coloring and preservatives.

Black caviar seems to be already covered. For salmon roe, which is also delicious, try an Asian (well, probably Japanese) grocery store. The better one near me carries really fresh stuff.
posted by Nameless at 7:40 AM on December 23, 2009

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