15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (2022)

Russians enjoy not just red and black caviar, but also yellow, pink and beige varieties of fish roe. But what is the difference apart from the color?

Caviar (ikra) is categorized according to the fish family from which it is obtained and the method of fishing. Thus, the most frequently encountered varieties are black caviar, red caviar and common species roe (often called yellow or white roe). In Russian, all these types are also called 'caviar'.

Black caviar

The culture of eating black caviar goes back at least 800 years. Mongol ruler Batu Khan's secretary mentioned the delicacy in 1240 and, by the 15th century, black caviar from the Volga began to be supplied to the table of the Grand Princes of Moscow. It comes from the sturgeon fish family - beluga, ossetra, sevruga and sterlet.

Black caviar is an expensive delicacy best enjoyed chilled and eaten unhurriedly - for example, with champagne. It is served on spoons or on toast, in tartlets, on slices of cucumber or with boiled egg. Another traditional way of serving it is with pancakes.

1. Beluga caviar

15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (1)

Beluga caviar with vodka.

Legion Media

Beluga caviar is the gourmets' favorite. It is one of the most expensive caviars and among the most highly valued for its flavor. Beluga caviar is slightly nutty to the taste and its grains have a golden hue. It is believed that the older the fish, the tastier is the caviar. The diameter of the grains is about 3.5 mm.

2. Ossetra caviar

15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (2)

Asparagus with ossetra caviar, sorrel mousse, seaweed sour cream.

Restaurant Beluga

The grains of ossetra caviar are smaller than those of beluga - they reach up to 2.5 mm. Its color is yellowish-brown and it has an aroma of algae. It is also known for its low salt content, which may be an advantage for some people. In order to preserve the unusual taste of the sea, the saline solution prepared for it is less concentrated than for beluga.

3. Sevruga caviar

15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (3)

The starred sturgeon or sevruga used to be widespread in the Black, Azov and Caspian Seas, so its caviar is traditionally valued less than beluga and ossetra caviar.

(Video) Why Caviar is so DANG Expensive!!! From Farm to Fine Dining!!

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The grains of sevruga caviar are quite small - their diameter is just 1 mm but they are firmer than beluga. It is considered not as tasty as other varieties of black caviar, but is distinguished by its high fat content.

4. Sterlet caviar

15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (4)

The connoisseurs advise to put a jar with caviar on ice for 20 minutes before serving. It is better to eat caviar from the skin of the hand, placing it between the thumb and forefinger, or with a silver spoon.

Legion Media

The grains of sterlet caviar are about 2.5 mm in diameter. It is black or gray-black in color, and has a thin outer membrane. Sterlet caviar tastes of the sea, but the flavor is not as strong as that of ossetra. It leaves a fishy aftertaste. Sterlet caviar is much cheaper than beluga or ossetra, so it is worth giving it a closer look.

5. Kaluga caviar

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Buckwheat pancake with caluga caviar, poached egg and romano and dandelion sauce.

Restaurant Beluga

Kaluga caviar comes from a hybrid of the beluga and the ossetra. This is one of the largest fish of the sturgeon family and can weigh up to 1,000 kg. The flavor of kaluga caviar is similar to beluga - "nuts with cream". The diameter of the grains is 2-3 mm. They are dark gray in color, sometimes with a green tinge.

Red caviar

Red caviar (salmon roe) is the roe of salmonid fish - pink salmon, keta, sockeye salmon, etc. It is less expensive and more popular than black caviar. In central Russia, it became widespread only in the 19th century, because the main region of origin is the Far East, from where it was always difficult to have it delivered.

Red caviar is an integral part of any festive table in Russia. It is delicious served on bread or toast or in tartlets. It is also used for garnishing salads and pelmeni (dumplings) and is generously served on pancakes or as a filling for eggs (see recipes here). A tin of salmon roe is also a good present to take with you when you are invited to someone's house.

6. Pink salmon roe

15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (6)

The ideal drink to go with caviar is champagne.

(Video) This is How CAVIAR is Made !

Legion Media

This is the most popular fish roe in Russian shops. Thanks to the high fertility of pink salmon, its roe is the one most frequently served with bread and butter or as a salad garnish at a Russian New Year party. Pink salmon roe has a bright orange color and pleasant fish flavor.

7. Keta salmon roe

15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (7)

The keta salmon roe is distinguished by its amber or dark orange color.

Legion Media

Keta salmon roe grains are large and firm and so keep their shape well. In flavor, it is similar to pink salmon roe, but can taste a bit bitter.

8. Sockeye salmon roe

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Tartlets with caviar and cream cheese.

Legion Media

Sockeye salmon roe has small dark red grains with a soft outer membrane. They are a little bitter and have a characteristic fish smell, which puts off some people. On the other hand, sockeye salmon is one of the first of the salmonids to start to spawn - in late May - so its roe can already be purchased in the early months of summer.

9. Silver salmon roe

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The silver salmon roe contains many vitamins.

Legion Media

This is a roe with an intense claret color and a slight bitterness. It is regarded as the healthiest of the red roe varieties, because of its wealth of nutrients, which include vitamin D, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, fatty acids, iron, iodine and others.

(Video) 이 놈 한 마리 가치가 무려 1500만원? 세계 3대 진미 캐비어가 만들어지는 과정 / How caviar is made / Korean street food

10. Trout roe

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Trout roe leaves a fishy aftertaste.

Legion Media

This bright red roe is salty and a little bitter to the taste, so it is rarely bought for use on bread. But, it goes well with cream cheese, dairy cream or sour cream. It has quite a sticky consistency, so it is often also used for sushi rolls.

Roe of common fish species

Chastikovaya ikra, or common species roe, includes the roe of any fish not in the salmon or sturgeon family. And, strictly speaking, the word chastikovaya relates not to a type of fish, but to the method of fishing using small mesh nets. Pike, bream and pollock are the most common fish caught in nets of this type. Chastikovaya ikra - the roe of these fish - literally means "small mesh roe".

Like its red counterpart, common species roe goes well with zakuski (the Russian word for appetizers and accompaniments to vodka) containing eggs, cucumbers and various types of seafood. Pollock and cod roe is used to flavor salads or paste. It can naturally be spread on bread and butter and some people add diminutively-sized roe of this kind to pancakes or griddle-cake batter. Give it a try!

11. Pike roe

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Puffins with pike and salmon roe.

Restaurant Zhar-Ptitsa

Pike roe has a distinctive yellow or even amber color and has small grains up to 3 mm in diameter. While nowadays, pike roe has been somewhat eclipsed by other varieties, under Ivan the Terrible it was highly valued. It is full of protein and has a low fat and calorie content.

12. Pollock roe

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Tasty and not expensive roe.

Legion Media

This roe has diminutive grains and a light beige or pink hue and resembles a paste. It has a very pronounced fish smell and a somewhat bitter flavor, so if you are going to serve it on bread, choose a fragrant dark variety.

(Video) Guess how much this can of caviar (fish eggs) was!!! #caviar #howto #Welcome2021 #expensive

13. Cod roe

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Cod roe contains a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3, which serve for the prevention of heart and vascular diseases.

Legion Media

In terms of flavor, cod roe can easily compete with more expensive varieties. It is peach colored and the grains are very small (1.5 mm). Cod roe has practically no fish smell, so it is extensively used in complex dishes.

14. Bream roe

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Bream roe is perfect for sandwiches for a regular family breakfast.

Legion Media

Bream roe is golden-yellow in color and the grains are small and crumbly. It is eaten both raw and salted and is also fried with a coating of flour or added to pancake batter.

15. Flying fish roe

15 varieties of caviar and fish roe popular in Russia (15)

For a long time, flying fish roe was considered an exotic product in Russia.

Legion Media

Flying fish roe (tobiko) with its mild, sweetish flavor gained popularity in Russia with the arrival of Japanese cuisine - it is a frequent addition to sushi and sushi rolls. It is bright orange in color, so it is also used for garnishing dishes.

READ MORE: 7 suggestions for selecting and eating caviar

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FAQs

Why is caviar so popular in Russia? ›

Russian fishermen learned to farm caviar as early as the 12th century and for centuries it was considered nothing more than cheap peasant food, served with porridge and eaten by the bowlful. However, once Ivan the Terrible got a taste for it, its status changed and it has remained a delicacy since.

Is caviar popular in Russia? ›

Caviar is a staple of Russian cuisine and is treat traditionally enjoyed on New Year's Eve. It was enjoyed on a regular basis by czars and czarinas. In the old days caviar was a staple not a luxury.

What is Russian caviar called? ›

In Russia, the term Almas means diamond. The most exclusive type of caviar in the world comes from roe produced by an albino beluga sturgeon. These fish are found mostly on the Iranian side of the Caspian Sea and are extremely rare.

What is the Russian word for the best grade of caviar? ›

Malossol is a Russian word that quite literally translates to "little salt". It is often used to describe caviar as sturgeon roe must be treated with salt in order to become caviar. Originally, the term Malossol was used to distinguish higher grade caviar from ordinary caviar.

How much is caviar in Russia? ›

Russia caviar wholesale price. In 2022, the approximate price range for Russia Caviar is between US$ 14.68 and US$ 15.28 per kilogram or between US$ 6.66 and US$ 6.93 per pound(lb). The price in Russian ruble is RUB 1099.55 per kg. The average price for a tonne is US$ 14679.02 in St Petersburg and Moscow.

What fish does Russian caviar come from? ›

Sturgeon are native to both oceans and freshwater rivers, mostly above the equator. They are large, strong fish and some have been reported to reach more than ten feet in length. Caviar is made from the roe of these different breeds of sturgeon.

Where does caviar come from Russia? ›

That's because Russia popularized caviar from wild sturgeon, often the beluga species that swims in the Caspian and Black seas. Fishermen cut out the roe from the sturgeon and often tossed the fish back in the water to die.

How is caviar eaten in Russia? ›

How to Eat Caviar (икра) - YouTube

Which is the best caviar? ›

If you're searching for the best kind of caviar in the world, Beluga caviar is the undisputed winner. Caviar from the Beluga sturgeon Huso huso, which swims in the pollution-free waters of the Caspian Sea, is widely recognized as the best, most flavorful kind of caviar.

What are different types of caviar? ›

Types of Caviar
  • Osetra Caviar.
  • Sevruga Caviar.
  • Kaluga Caviar.
  • Hackleback Caviar.
  • Salmon Caviar (Salmon Roe)
  • Sushi Caviars or Flying Fish Roe: Capelin, Tobiko and Masago Caviar.

Which country is famous for caviar? ›

Russia and Iran have long dominated the caviar export market, harvesting the delectable eggs from beluga sturgeon in the Caspian Sea. Overfishing there eventually landed them on the endangered species list, and as supply dwindled, other nations, including Japan, Israel, and China, have started to fill the gap.

What Colour is caviar? ›

The natural egg color actually varies from pale tan to brown but is almost always dyed black or red for consistency. The eggs are also generally very small in size. Technically, these are simply fish roes, but good examples of varieties you may come across that are black and often called caviar.

Why is caviar so popular? ›

A lot of people buy caviar not only because of its taste and luxury it brings about, but also because of its health benefits. It is full of omega-3 fatty acids and other minerals. Eating caviar is like taking the elixir of youth. Caviar is also used in skin and hair treatment.

Is caviar cheaper in Russia? ›

Caviar from the rare beluga sturgeon costs about $1,800 per kg in Moscow markets, versus 3,700 British pounds ($7,499) in London, though other types cost less.

Can you still get Russian caviar? ›

No, we do not get caviar from Russia anymore. Actually, most countries, even other parts of Europe, do not receive it for a few reasons, one being that Russian caviar is consumed domestically by Russian citizens. They love their caviar and it's still a short-supplied delicacy for them due to the very high demand.

Why is caviar illegal in Russia? ›

It is illegal in Russia to privately harvest or sell black caviar, which comes from the endangered sturgeon fish. Russia imposed the ban in 2002 in an effort to halt overfishing. Only state-owned farms are now permitted to sell the delicacy.

What's the difference between roe and caviar? ›

All fish eggs are technically “roe”, but not all “roe” is caviar. The term caviar only applies to the fish roe in the sturgeon family Acipenseridae. Salmon roe and the roe from whitefish, trout, cod, red caviar, ikura, and tobiko, etc. are considered “caviar subsitutes” and not caviar.

Is caviar expensive in Russia? ›

Caviar from the rare beluga sturgeon costs about $1,800 per kg in Moscow markets, versus 3,700 British pounds ($7,499) in London, though other types cost less.

Does all caviar come from Russia? ›

Most high-quality caviar is now produced in farms located across Europe in Hungary, Italy, Greece and Germany, as well as stateside, from California to Kentucky. Costco sources its Osetra caviar from a Bulgarian farm on the Black Sea. The largest supply of caviar in the world comes from one farm in China.

Why is caviar so popular? ›

A lot of people buy caviar not only because of its taste and luxury it brings about, but also because of its health benefits. It is full of omega-3 fatty acids and other minerals. Eating caviar is like taking the elixir of youth. Caviar is also used in skin and hair treatment.

How is caviar served in Russia? ›

However, you should know that the accompaniment to traditional Russian caviar is bread and butter. If it is the first time you taste caviar, you can accompany it with bread, blinis, or crackers. Another way to serve caviar Russian style is to pair it with vodka, We will revisit pairing caviar with alcohol in a moment.

Where is the best caviar from? ›

The best quality caviar comes from the countries around the Caspian Sea, home to the Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga sturgeon. For centuries, Russia and Iran have dominated the caviar market, producing the highest quality, and most in-demand, caviar in the world.

Why is Russian caviar so expensive? ›

Caviar on the other hand comes from farmed sturgeon. Though there are 27 different species of sturgeon, they are highly endangered (via Business Insider). The scarcity of sturgeon combined with the desirability of caviar as well as the extensive breeding and harvesting process is what makes it so expensive.

What is the most popular caviar? ›

Beluga caviar is frequently considered the best caviar in the world, while Ossetra is best-known and an international favorite (also known as Oscietra, Osetra, or Asetra depending on the region it hails from and various dialectical spellings).

Is caviar illegal in Russia? ›

It is illegal in Russia to privately harvest or sell black caviar, which comes from the endangered sturgeon fish. Russia imposed the ban in 2002 in an effort to halt overfishing. Only state-owned farms are now permitted to sell the delicacy.

What color is caviar? ›

The natural egg color actually varies from pale tan to brown but is almost always dyed black or red for consistency. The eggs are also generally very small in size. Technically, these are simply fish roes, but good examples of varieties you may come across that are black and often called caviar.

Whats caviar taste like? ›

Let's dig in. While caviar comes from a fish, it is NOT (or shouldn't be) super fishy. It will always have a mild fishiness and slight saltiness, but the taste of caviar is more like ocean water ,rather than in-your-face fish.

What is the benefit of caviar? ›

High in good fat

In addition, caviar is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats improve your mood and memory (among other things, they also help protect your brain cells) and are critical to components of a healthy pregnancy, maternal nutrition and infant development.

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