Column: A delightful fish story


Commentary by Mark LaFay

It’s the holidays, which means that we are in peak gnoshing season. In our family, we bust out all sorts of fun foods around Christmas and New Year’s. Sometimes on New Year’s we will get extra fancy with a bit of caviar to go with the sparkling wine. So, what is caviar, you ask?  Well, true caviar only comes from sturgeon. The purists would say that it only comes from wild sturgeons, but let’s be honest, that isn’t sustainable. Today, only a small percentage of caviar is harvested from the wild. The majority is farmed around the world, with 70 percent coming from China.

Recently, I tasted through three different caviars from Astrea. Astrea Caviar happens to be produced in the Yunan Province of China.  Sturgeon from there are raised in a spring-fed lake and live for 10 to 25 years. No chemicals or antibiotics are used, and their processes and techniques for producing high-quality caviar is very cool! When the eggs are extracted, they are washed, salted and aged for 1 to 4 months which gives them additional complexity. If you’ve never had caviar, now is the time! Here are three delicious options:

Russian Oscietra Hybrid – Acipenser gueldenstaedtii and baerii sturgeon are crossed to make this hybrid sturgeon. The resulting caviar is rich and nutty, with a touch of sea brine. The texture is creamy as well.

Kalluga Hybrid – These sturgeon are a cross between Huso Dauricus and Acipenser Schrenckii sturgeon. The eggs are large, and it has a righteous buttery texture and flavor.

Grand Schrenckii – Also known as Amur Sturgeon, this is a tremendous caviar with great depth and complexity. The eggs are like the kalluga, if not a touch smaller. This caviar has an incredibly rich, nutty, and buttery flavor. Having tasted all three side-by-side, this caviar is mind-blowing.

If you enjoy cured meats — and seafood — then caviar is a no-brainer to try. It is hard to explain caviar because the texture and the flavor are other-worldly. You really must try it, and what better time than the holidays? The folks at Astrea were super cool and gave us a discount code to share. Order directly from them with the code CURRENT and save 15 percent off your order.