Beluga sturgeon is the largest of the bony fishes. While there are larger fishes such as sharks, they have no bones, only cartilage. Even the sturgeon has more cartilage than bone but it does have a bony spine.They can be recognized by the five rows of boney plates on their bodies and sharklike tails. The Beluga is considered a “living fossil.” It can measure 20 feet or more, reach up to 2,200 pounds in weight, and reaching 20 feet in length, also can live a hundred years. The female must reach 18 to 20 years old before it to begin producing eggs (roe.)
The largest grain and most delicate in flavor of sturgeon eggs, Beluga caviar tastes somewhat like the sea with buttery overtones. Its color varies from light to dark gray.
The Beluga is anadramous and migrates up fresh water rivers to spawn. During the course of its life a Beluga sturgeon will produce hundreds of pounds of eggs (caviar) and during the spawn, the amount of eggs can equal up to 15% of total body weight producing anywhere from 300,000 thousand to more than 4 million eggs. If a sturgeon is stressed, it can actually reabsorb its eggs and lose a spawning cycle.
The construction of dams, irrigation, and silting of spawning places have almost eliminated spawning runs on many rivers. The Beluga is found in the Caspian, Azov, and Adriatic Seas as well as the Dneper and Danube rivers with 85% being found in the Caspian.
The Beluga is so rare that the average annual catch is only 100 fish worldwide.
Each type of caviar, regardless of where it comes from, also has its own staunch supporters. While Beluga caviar is the most expensive, the expense is related to ‘rarity’ and not necessarily to ‘being the best. Many of the world’s chefs, and other consumers, prefer the flavor of Osetra caviar or Sevruga caviar to that of Beluga caviar regardless of price. It is all a matter of personal taste. Paying a higher price just for the ‘name’ of a particular sturgeon caviar variety may not always mean your taste buds would have done the same. Remember, price does not always reflect quality and better taste, it often only reflects rarity.
This caviar was the favorite of Pablo Picasso, who used to pay for it by sending cash wrapped in a signed original sketch.
Thanks to icaviar.info