Live And Eat Like The Rich On Caviar Day
In honor of Caviar Day on July 18, let’s splurge on this expensive luxury food best enjoyed in small doses. But is caviar truly worth the expense, aside from the bragging rights you get when serving it to impress your guests? Many people who try it for the first time ask, “What’s the big deal?” But it does take several tries of high quality caviar before one can appreciate these subtly salty and juicy grains, that range in color from light grey to jet black.
What is caviar? It’s essentially unfertilized salt-cured fish eggs from sturgeon. (Note that fish roe from fish other than sturgeon can’t be called caviar.) With wild sturgeon becoming endangered, most of the caviar you’ll find in the market comes from farm-raised sturgeon produced around the world, primarily China and the United States.
You can find caviar locally in the refrigerated sections of most gourmet shops, like Santis Delicatessen. When you bring a tin or jar home, keep it in the coldest section of the refrigerator. Since it’s lightly cured, the caviar should be good for up to a month, but it’s always best to consume it soon after you buy it.
What’s the best way to serve caviar? Always chilled, in its original container placed in a bowl with ice, served with lemon wedges and toast to spread on. If you’re feeling fancy, you can have it with blini or mini Russian pancakes, plus chopped hard-boiled eggs (whites and yolks separated), chopped red onion, chives, crème fraiche or sour cream. Most important, don’t use a silver or stainless steel teaspoon to scoop up the caviar, as the metal affects the taste. Instead, use a mother-of-pearl teaspoon, or if you don’t have one, a plastic or glass spoon will do.
What’s the best drink to pair with caviar? Champagne or sparkling wine, of course. Or do like the Russians and go with ice-cold vodka.
One of the most popular ways of serving caviar is in “pie” form. It always looks elegant, especially when unmolded so you see the different layers of caviar, cream, and other ingredients. And it goes a long way in feeding bigger groups of guests. Here’s a great-tasting recipe that you can prepare ahead of time for your next fancy party.
Recipe by Tina Concepcion Diaz
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, reserve 2 teaspoons
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 small red onion or shallot, sliced thinly and soaked in iced water
- 1 1/2 cups or 1 1/2 bars (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 small tub caviar
1. Line 2 medium ramekins with plastic wrap, leaving about 2 inches of overhang around the rims.
2. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and salt. Add eggs and fold until you get a chunky mixture. Spoon into the two lined ramekins and spread to create an even layer.
3. Sprinkle spring onions on top of egg salad.
4. Drain sliced onions and blot excess water with paper napkins. Arrange over spring onions.
5. Using an electric mixer or wire whisk, mix cream cheese in a bowl until you get a smooth consistency. Add cream and mix until blended. Add remaining lemon juice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Carefully spoon cream cheese mixture over onion-egg layer, spreading it evenly. Carefully spoon a layer of caviar over cream cheese. Cover caviar with the overhang and refrigerate until set.
7. To serve, carefully lift the overhang to remove the pie from the ramekin. Peel and place on a plate or cheese board with an assortment of crackers and crostini.
This recipe first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 4, 2017
Photos by Pat Mateo
Styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz