Help! Need a Caviar Purchasing Primer

Calling all resident FTC seafood/caviar experts on FTC, can anyone help navigate purchasing caviar today? Used to be very simple back in the day - Beluga (when you feel like the 0.01%), Ossetra (when you feel like the 0.5%), Sevruga (1%), Paddlefish/Hackleback (when you can’t afford any of the good stuff), Lumpfish (everyone else) and sourced from Russia or Iran.

Today its seems like cornucopia of sources (Germany, Italy, China, Siberia, Switzerland, US, Israel, Belgium etc) and variety (Alverta, Shassetra, Kaluga, Baika, Transmontanus, Chataluga, Gavieri etc); frankly I can’t keep up.

What should I look for when purchasing caviar these days? Help!


Great site. I’ve already it shared it!

And here’s an article about paddlefish Sgee might find interesting.

I’ve had trout roe that I liked a lot.

Here’s a fave NYE feast we have.


Don’t buy any caviar sourced from China.

And this has nothing to do with tariffs, or what-not.

“If you go to Europe, a lot of the Michelin star restaurants in England, France and Germany are using Chinese caviar. [Alain] Ducasse and [Joel] Robuchon are using it.”

Interesting article here:

Care to elaborate?

The one I purchased today was from the Amur region in China. I thought it was very good taste-wise and large pearl size. Cost as much/more than some of the non-Chinese sourced eggs.

I did wonder why you went with non-US caviar. Maybe you too could elaborate. Please and thank you.

Kaluga Queen (from Hangzhou Qiandaohu Xunlong Sci-Tech Co., Ltd) caviar is probably some of the best you will find on the market, on par or equal to Russian.

But the problem is that you are never and I stress never really sure it’s true Kaluga Queen caviar.

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A general problem with Chinese imports is the contents not matching the label. If you can judge the quality, maybe no problem, but otherwise, caveat emptor.

So far I like Imperial Russian golden osetra (acipenser gueldenstaedtii). It’s nutty so I like a barrel-aged champagne with it (or, 2006 taittinger Comtes de Chanpagne is also a good pairing). Of course, vodka goes well with it, too.

Also, Baerii (acipenser baerii) if you’re going to use it in some cream-based dish like vichyssoise, in which a Parmesan cheese taste would not be out of place. It could also work with a rich dish like monkfish with a saffron beurre blanc with dill and fried courgette blossoms (stuffed with a scallop/fish mousse).


Unfortunately, this is a very generic site if one is trying to learn more. I know beluga was the benchmark for large size pearls and taste before it was banned. It appears that basically everything is farmed these days (except paddleback and hackleback?).

What I’m trying to better understand without going bankrupt:

  1. What sturgeon species / hybrid produces the largest pearls?
  2. What are the different flavor profiles available? What’s considered the best/benchmark?
  3. Source (country/region) that produces the best roe? Which farms should one focus on?
  4. Reputable suppliers - Petrossian, Caviar Russe, Browne trading etc? Are there any reputable under the radar direct / alternative purveyors?
  5. Best QPR - probably the most important :rofl:? ie. The Kaluga Imperial Gold I purchased from Browne was $155/oz vs $225 for a similiar product at Dean and Deluca. How does one differentiate or are they both the same? Why does one cost more than the other?
  6. Difference between a $250/oz vs $500/oz caviar offered at the same retailer ie. Petrossian?

There’s not much to learn except that the traditional best species for wild caviar are all critically endangered and import is banned. I believe Sterling is what Saison serves (though theirs is cured with their special local sea salt).

THIS! Completely and 100%. If anyone has the opportunity to eat the endangered type then you’re not a real lovely person. IMneverHO of course :slight_smile:

From the Petrossian site:

"When it comes to caviar, there is no better or worse - it’s all a matter of personal preference. "

And in a perfect (rich) world, WHEN I’m flying first class, international out of LAX then please allow me a “to go” package to have in flight.

Actually from D&L’s site that $225 is for 1.76 oz. so,if my math is correct it’s close to the same price.

This article by Kenji may give you some of the info you’re looking for.


Thanks @catholiver, good article. Sounds like I need to pop by Petrossian for a sampling session.

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I’ve learned a lot from this so thanks for bringing it up. And I remembered that there’s Seattle Caviar and we’re going to be back there soon. I see a tasting in our future also :slight_smile:

Great article.