Caviar Guide

Get the inside scoop on these elegant caviars that won't break the bank

By Gregory Dal Piaz
Published: Desember 22, 2012

Marky's Caviar

Caviar, the so-called authentic stuff coming from wild caught sturgeon, going by the name Beluga, Osetra or Sevruga are like certain wines in many ways.

These pearls of the sea are nuanced, invite inspection and thought, and now cost too much to be enjoyed by mere mortals like myself. But all is not lost. There are alternatives, and while some quite good, few can rival the best of the best.

Fortunately, the best of the rest are awfully good and cost a fraction of what the top flight caviars are running these days. Paying a lot for caviar frankly is a bit of a fool’s errand. Caviar is fish eggs, they are perishable, and are treated to salting and pressing processes. So unlike wine, every tin of Osetra or Beluga is not equivalent. Heck, sometimes they are not even alike.

I’ve made a big deal in the past about finding a reputable wine merchant to work with, and that goes double for perishable food items such as caviar. I recently splurged for samples of five domestic caviars from an outfit called Marky’s located in Florida. I’ve enjoyed some of their products in the past and have found their selection and pricing to be unmatched.

I have no affiliation with Marky’s and the entire order purchased for this article was paid for at standard retail pricing, just to get that out of the way.

Great Catches Caviar
Great Catches

So what did I find? First off, kudos to Marky’s for making the ordering easy, and delivering a well-packed assortment of Caviars on time. I don’t have a scale in the office but it’s worth pointing out that many of the tins I purchased were overflowing with caviar, which was a pleasant surprise as well.

I’ve had experience with domestic caviar in the past and found the products to be well-priced and of good quality. Of course there is a range of prices for these products, and pricing seems to be creeping up quite quickly for the top products, but they still offer great value.

The caviars I tasted ranged from serviceable and perfect for pasta dishes, to awfully good and deserving of special attention. Sadly, the price seems to correlate close with the quality here, with no super values to be had, but a wide range of styles to enjoy. Lets take a look at the products.

I’ve used the 7 ounce tins for price comparison here. Each tin can give half a dozen people a generous portion.

Salmon Roe Caviar<

Salmon Roe - $21 per 7 ounces

Large, plump orange grains with a sweet salmon aroma. Crisp, with grains that pop in the mouth delivering a creamy, sweet fish flavor that finishes very clean and fresh.

This is a fine all-purpose caviar that delivers a nice caviar experience but with flavors that are more fish driven. Great for crowds, pastas, and with cream cheese on a bagel!

America's Pride Golden Herring Caviar

America's Pride Golden Herring - $48 per 7 ounces

Medium sized black-grey, slightly oval grains with a bit of a dirty, milky texture. Loose in the mouth with a bit of a smoky, smoked fish flavor that seems a bit neutral. Flavors are lacking some of the brininess one expects from caviar.

Pleasant, but this needs something like pasta or perhaps a cream sauce. Use with a seafood dish to help dilute and carry the intense smoky flavor that obscured much of the caviar's flavor when this was served on its own.

American Bowfin Caviar

American Bowfin - $69 per 7 ounces

Small, black, fine-grained, clear, adhesive. Herbal, sweet, almost licorice notes add to a fresh brininess on the nose. Adhesive in the mouth, fine grains are really quite sticky and pop very gently in the mouth and the palate, but they do offer lovely flavors. A lingering salty, briny aftertaste, with a hint of something bitter and vegetal on the finish.

A bit too salty on its own, this is a classic caviar for pairing with crème fraiche and blinis. The texture leaves a little to be desired but the flavors are wonderful and assertive.

American Paddlefish Caviar

American Paddlefish - $140 per 7 ounces

Medium, separate, grey-black grains. Very clean, fresh, salty aroma. Soft, creamy texture, real depth of flavor, complex, long, salty and savory. Lacks pop in the mouth but intensely flavored and delicious with a very soft, rather luxurious texture.

This deserves to be served quite simply. Its plenty creamy, so just simple toast points would be a perfect way to enjoy this luxurious, intensely flavored caviar.

Hackleback Caviar

Hackleback - $152 per 7 ounces

Small, black, clear grains, sweet and fresh. Very distinct grains that pop nicely in the mouth delivering very fresh flavors. Saline and sweet, and a little creamy on the back end, with a long, sweet/briny finish. Really top notch caviar and totally delicious.

This is the best domestic caviar Ive had, just gorgeous with fine, crisp distinct grains in the mouth and a rich, sweet and gently briny flavor that is persistent on the palate without any lingering bitterness or off flavors. This is what those mother of pearl spoons can be used for.