Luxist Guide To Beluga Caviar Alternatives
Sterling Caviar: One of the best options coming out of California. At Sterling Caviar they raise the fish themselves, waiting patiently eight to ten years for the harvest. Their large farm has an inventory of thousands of sturgeon which are fed a high-protein, balanced diet and monitored for their health. Sterling comes in three versions, classic, royal and imperial, which is the best of the batch and costs $60 per ounce.
Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Company: Another Northern California caviar producer, Tsar Nicoulai offers a major bonus, a caviar cafe in San Francisco where you can taste the merchandise. Caviar is big business in the U.S., we spent $148 million on imported caviar last year and only about $19 million on the domestic white sturgeon kind. Tsar Nicoulai deals not just in sturgeon but in whitefish roe infused with flavors ranging from ginger to saffron. Their finest osetra sells for $69 per ounce.
Paddlefish or Spoonfish Caviar: One of the tastiest caviar options in the U.S. comes from a freshwater cousin to the sturgeon. The paddlefish, which is also known as the spoonfish is another ugly fish that produces delicious caviar. The caviar has a mild and rich taste and the grayish look of sevruga. A two ounce tin from Shuckman's Gourmet Smoked Fish and Caviar in Kentucky sells for $35.
Sunburst Caviar: Freshwater caviar has a taste all its own. Trout caviar has a bright orange color and a light taste. Sunburst Caviar comes from North Carolina and the company prides itself on its environmentally-safe practices. A two-ounce jar sells for $28.
Emperor's Roe Salmon Roe: Red salmon roe gets a bad rap but roe from wild Alaskan chum salmon roe has a juicy taste. Although salmon roe can be found in most grocery stores for not a lot of money it often makes sense to go to a caviar store and sample the varieties of roe available. An inexpensive thrill, Alaskan chum salmon roe sells for $25 for 4 oz.
Mountain Lake Fisheries: Golden whitefish caviar from the cool waters of Montana. It's no beluga substitute as it doesn't resemble the precious stuff in looks or in mouthfeel but it has an appeal all its own. It's not as heavily salty and it has a distinctive tempting crunch. If the fishiness of caviar is your least favorite caviar quality then you might enjoy this alternative which sells for $20 for a four-ounce jar.
Collins Caviar: Now for something completely different, dessert caviar. You couldn't do this with beluga. Collins Caviar takes whitefish caviar, rinses the salt off and then sweetens it with passion fruit and orange and infuses it with passion fruit-infused Armagnac liqueur. 3.5 ounces sells for $34.95.
Sea Gem Kelp Caviar: Another seaweed alternative, Sea Gem is made from kelp. It comes in beluga, salmon and wasabi flavors and it is pasteurized so it has a longer shelf life and doesn't need refrigeration. This caviar also doesn't stain surrounding foods. Sea Gem is a new company from Canada and the product is currently making the rounds at food shows.
Cavi-Art: Another caviar alternative from seaweed. It doesn't sound too appetizing and we definitely wouldn't recommend this one to stand on its own but if you are looking for something to fold inside a caviar omelet or as a garnish it could work and at less than six dollars for a small jar it's the most inexpensive option.