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CAVIAR

Caviar, the delicacy of Kings, Princes and Commissars. Think of gold, diamonds, Champagne, Ferraris, and what else but caviar. The finest caviar was from the Caspian Sea, from sturgeons that could weigh over 900 pounds and reach ages greater than we humans. It was carefully harvested, delicately salted to preserve it, and sent all over the world in sterling containers carefully packed in ice. Beluga was the most famous, and Ostreca and Sevruga were also revered by connoisseurs.

Caspian Sea caviar is for the most part gone now. The incredible devastation that years of total environmental neglect and exploitation that the Soviet Union and its heirs have inflicted on the Caspian Sea area have basically wiped out the sturgeon fishery, and the sad remnants of the sturgeon populations are now being mopped up by poachers and the all pervading pollution. Caviar from the Caspian region's last remnant populations of sturgeons is now being sold on the world's Black markets, and at quite excellent prices. It probably tastes about the same as it used to, maybe with a bit of an oily aftertaste from petroleum or pesticides, but the heavy metal and odd chemical load that it carries is probably spectacular.

Though the Caspian Sea sturgeon caviar is rare, illegal to import, and probably too polluted to eat, there are some very good suppliers of farm raised sturgeon caviar and caviar from other selected fish. For a bit of luxury in your life, or if you want to really impress someone, there is nothing like a good caviar and a good bottle of Champagne!


To Prepare Caviar at Home:

Caviar is quite simply fresh fish eggs, cleaned and preserved carefully with a bit of salt. Excellent caviar can also be prepared from the eggs of many common game fish. The caviar I am most familiar with is from the stocked Kokonee salmon of our New Mexico lakes, and this recipe is for those eggs, but the same method works with many different types of eggs. I have heard that barracuda eggs may be dangerous, and I wouldn't trust the Fugu, or blowfish, but any egg sack you would fry, and can be cleaned like Caviar eggs, should be good. Check out what you have.

When you catch a fish that may have eggs and you want to make caviar, clean the fish immediately, and if it does have egg sacks, put them in a plastic bag and on ice. As soon as you can, start the caviar. Slit the egg sacks, and clean the eggs from the membranes they are attached too. This is the hard part. Use your fingers, continually cleaning out the little pieces of membrane. A steel screen with 1/4 inch or so mesh can be a help. Through all of this process do your best not to break the eggs. Do most of this work in a bowl of clean, cold water, and when all of the membrane has been sorted out, and the eggs are clean, drain them well.

Measure the eggs, and for each cup of eggs, make a brine of two cups of cold water and 1/2 cup kosher salt in a glass bowl large enough to hold both brine and eggs. Add eggs to cold brine and swirl gently occasionally for 15-20 minutes. Drain in a sieve and refrigerate for at least an hour or two and preferably overnight.

Caviar is good on crackers, with baked or boiled potatoes, scrambled eggs, blinies, crepes, deviled eggs and such. Decorate the caviar with a slice of lime, a bit of minced onion, or a little sieved hard boiled egg yolk. Serve with ice cold vodka, champagne or a clean, cold Pilsner. If you like caviar, this is excellent.

This same Caviar can be salted a bit more heavily, mashed, and used to make the Middle Eastern delicacy Taramusala. It can also be heavily salted, left to drain a while and then mashed and dried to a hard, flavorful concentrate which is quite delicious, high in nutritive value and rather indestructible. Caviar can be preserved in small jars if you use the same preserving techniques you would use for cold meat, fish or corn. The texture deteriorates badly, but the flavor and nutritional value are still good.

This is a recipe that you can experiment with, and use what you have available. I wish you good luck and enjoyment.



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