Describing the taste of caviar is not an easy thing to do. Taste is subjective, so no amount of description can truly explain the flavor, and since no caviar is identical from fish to fish, it gets even more complicated to identify how a specific harvest or variation tastes compared to another. Yet, the more a person tries it, the more they can start understanding the subtle differences between one caviar and another, and deciding which ones are their favorite.
What Does Caviar Taste Like?
When attempting to tell someone what caviar tastes like, "kinda salty and fishy" just doesn't cover it. Some experts claim there are around 15 different flavors you can experience when eating caviar, and the taste is never the same from one roe to the next. This is why it is so difficult to explain caviar's flavor to novice roe eaters. The taste of malossol caviar can be an elusive sensation that is more like what the sea reminds you of than any particularly identifiable flavor all by itself.
The flavors associated with caviar do have common explanations: a breath of the sea, a touch of salt, the delicate flavor of fresh fish, sometimes smooth and nutty, full of sweet brine that pops in your mouth and fills your nose, like good raw oysters but richer. However, any given depiction ends up being underwhelming compared to the experience itself. Some caviar can have a buttery, velvety or creamy notes, along with flavors you might not notice unless you were expecting them. While the complexity of high-end caviar might be lost on someone new to the delicacy, it is important to try an array of the different types to better understand the taste and texture of caviar.
Why Caviar Taste Varies
There are 27 different species of sturgeon, and many more non-sturgeon fish that have their roe made into fine caviar. Each species has its own unique flavor, but even caviar from the same type of fish can taste different based on a number of factors. Here are a few reasons caviar taste may vary:
- Health of the fish
- The age and size of the fish
- Where it lived
- Whether it was farm-raised or wild-caught
- Type of feed and food consumption
- The water quality of its environment
- How the fish’s roe was harvested (when and where)
- How much salt was used in production
- Whether the roe was pasteurized or not
- If the roe was kept fresh or frozen after harvest
- The container in which the roe was packed
- How long the caviar is stored for
++ many other small factors can all affect the taste of caviar in some way.
Beluga Caviar Taste
With Beluga being one of the most popular types of caviar in the world, we are commonly asked: “What does Beluga caviar taste like?” As stated above, even caviar from the same fish can vary depending on several factors, but the best way to explain the taste of Beluga caviar would be with a few, commonly-described characteristics: creamy, buttery, with a subtle nutty and briny flavor. It isn't quite as complex as Osetra or as creamy as Siberian, but always smooth, mild, and delicious (if you're getting good quality, of course). Although these are not all the flavors you may experience while tasting beluga caviar, you should expect a similar combination.
So, when somebody asks “how does caviar taste”, it can be difficult to give an exact answer. But for an easy answer to a not so easy question, caviar has a wide range of flavors that are not easily described, even by experts. Only through trying it more and more can we start identifying different factors, both natural and man-made, that affect caviar taste.