The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat caviar. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.
What caviar etiquette is
Caviar etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat caviar. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.
If you are hosting, follow caviar etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.
If you are a guest, respect caviar etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.
What you should know about caviar
Caviar is salt-cured roe (fish eggs). The most common caviar in commerce is from sturgeon. Sturgeon caviar is small and black. is larger and orange-red.
The roe can be fresh or pasteurized. Caviar has a slightly salty, strong, and distinctive flavor.
Etiquette rules to serve and eat caviar
1) How to store caviar
Store caviar in the fridge. Fresh caviar should last around 4 weeks. Pasteurized caviar can last for up to 1 year.
Store caviar in its unopened sealed container. Its ideal temperature is between -1°C and 4°C (30°F to 38°F). Once you open its container, store caviar in the fridge and eat it within 3 days.
You can store caviar in the freezer. It will last up to one year. However, freezing caviar is not recommended. The freezer is too cold and risks making caviar lose its flavor and texture.
Do not store caviar outside at room temperature.
2) How to clean caviar
Do not wash caviar. Washing caviar is unnecessary, and it waters down its taste and spoil its texture.
3) How to prepare & cook caviar
Open the container 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
It is best to eat caviar raw. If you use it as an ingredient, add it before serving the course. Avoid cooking caviar, as hot temperatures spoil the flavor.
You can add caviar as an ingredient to a dish, such as a fish course. However, caviar is expensive, rich in flavor, and oily in texture. Thus, to fully enjoy caviar, you should add it in pinches. Do not add a large quantity of caviar to any dish.
4) How to serve & present caviar
Serve caviar cool or slightly chilled. Avoid a serving temperature below 12°C (54°F). Cold temperature prevent caviar from releasing its full flavor.
Caviar should be eaten in small quantities, due to its oily matter.
Serve caviar in a small glass container. Ideally, the glass container should rest on ice.
Present caviar with special caviar spoons. They must be made of inert material. Such as animal horn or bone, gold, mother of pearl, or wood. Do not use metal utensils, as they can taint the flavor.
Serve caviar with some complements to eat it with. Bread and butter, toast, crackers, small buckwheat pancakes (blini), or eggs. Avoid lemon, as its juice “cooks” caviar and covers its aroma.
5) Foods and beverages to pair caviar with
Caviar has a distinctive flavor. Do not pair it with food that may overwhelm its flavor.
You can pair caviar with sour cream, creme fraiche, or mayonnaise. Chives and red onions. Smoked salmon. Avoid lemon.
Pair caviar with Champagne or Vodka. The oil in the caviar coats the stomach and slows the absorption of alcohol. You can pair caviar with a dry white wine, such as Chardonnay or Riesling. Do not pair caviar with red wine.
6) How to eat caviar
Eat caviar with a special caviar spoon. If only metal utensils are available, do not complain and use them.
Eat one pinch of caviar at a time. Do not gulp large quantities.
Do not chew caviar. Instead, gently squeeze it between your tongue and palate.
Caviar etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst caviar etiquette mistakes.
- 8/10. Serving caviar with metal utensils.
- 7/10. Serving yourself with a large quantity of caviar.
- 7/10. Chewing caviar.
- 7/10. Pairing caviar with red wine.
- 6/10. Serving caviar with lemon.
- 4/10. Cooking caviar.
Additional information for properly serving caviar
How many calories per serving?
Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.
Caviar contains about 264 calories per 100 grams. An individual serving is around 30 grams (1 oz) per person. Thus, it contains 80 calories.
How to buy the best caviar
A crucial factor in caviar etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.
Season and availability
Caviar is available all year round.
Choose the best
High-quality caviar should not taste salty or smell fishy.
There are three main types of caviar.
- Beluga. The most expensive and rarest caviar. Beluga caviar is dark grey in color. Its eggs are quite large.
- Iscveitra. Expensive and rare too, even if not as Beluga. Iscveitra caviar is golden in color. Its eggs are smaller and oilier.
- Sevruga. The cheapest type. Sevruga caviar is grey in color, with dark green nuances. Its eggs are small and somehow saltier in flavor.
Alternatives to caviar
A cheaper substitute for caviar is salmon roe, also known as salmon eggs.
What temperature do you store caviar? Between -1°C and 4°C (30°F to 38°F)
Does caviar go well with cheese? Caviar goes well with fresh dairy products, such as creme fraiche. Do not pair seasoned cheese with caviar.
Does caviar go well with vegetables? The best vegetables to match caviar with are onions and chives.
What do you serve with caviar? Serve caviar with bread and butter, toast, small pancakes (blini), or eggs.
What drink goes best with caviar? Champagne or vodka.