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Caviar Glossary: A Glossary Of The Different Caviar Types

Page 7: Caviar Glossary P To Q

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Paddlefish caviar can be recognized from its pale grey pearls, often with a brownish hue. Photo courtesy

See white sturgeon.



Providing what some consider to be the best substitute for the more expensive sturgeon caviars, the North American Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) is a close relative of the sturgeon. It lives more than 50 years, grows to five feet in length and weighs 60 to 100 pounds. Its long, thin nose protrudes some 15 inches, like a swordfish’s. The caviar flavor is rich and complex; some people find it comparable to sevruga caviar in taste: the texture is smooth and silky; it is slightly saltier and more understated than Caspian sturgeon caviar. The smallish eggs come in many shades of gray from pale to dark steel, and are also found in golden brown tones. Paddlefish caviar can taste “muddy”; as with any product, some are better than others.

Paddlefish are one of the largest freshwater fish in North America. Primarily harvested for its caviar, the meat is also delicious fresh or
when smoked. Paddlefish caviar is more affordable than Sevruga; however the paddlefish population is also facing a decline. This is ironically, since paddlefish caviar is now in great demand, initially due to placement of the three Caspian sturgeon on the World Wildlife Foundation’s Endangered Species List and a ban of the import of Caspian caviar by the U.S. government (and now to a greater worldwide band by CITES). After years of overfishing and habitat damage from dams, the wild paddlefish itself was declared an endangered species by the U.S. several years ago. It is found in the Mississippi River and its tributaries especially in Tennessee and Kentucky, and is called spoonfish is Kentucky; spoonbill or spoonies elsewhere.

Two major producers are Osage Catfisheries, in Osage Beach, MO, which markets its product under the L’Osage brand, and Shuckman’s Fish Co. & Smokery Louisville Kentucky, which markets Kentucky Spoonfish Caviar. Paddlefish meat has a texture similar to swordfish and is sold smoked or in steaks. Although not popular in the West, it is considered a delicacy in Asia. Some caviar reviewers have found the paddlefish caviar from the indoor farm in Germany (as well was from some domestic-farmed paddlefish to be “off-flavor,” with a muddy, pondy or briny taste (green-cast eggs are a giveaway). This should change over the next 10 years as farm technologies improve. Today, look for wild-caught, sustainable paddlefish caviar that is light gray to dark gray in color, with no green hue.

Paddlefish caviar. Photo courtesy

The paddlefish, also known as the spoonbill. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Caviar is sterilized at high temperatures to remove harmful microorganisms so that it has a longer shelf life (it may or may not require refrigeration, depending on the particular product). Pasteurization semi-cooks the caviar and makes it slightly saltier. It also changes the mouth feel, making it slightly harder, although the quality and price remain the same. Regular caviar should be stored at 28°F to 32°F; unopened jars can be stored for four weeks. Pasteurized caviar will keep in the refrigerator unopened for several months. Once opened, all caviars should be consumed within two to three days.



The caviar eggs are also called pearls or beads in the trade.



Caviar from Iran, the present-day name for Persia.



The Persian sturgeon (Acipenser persicus), formerly plentiful in the Caspian Sea and Black Sea, has been overfished to Endangered Species status. Much of the caviar consumed and exported by Iran is Acipenser persicus.


You can see why caviar eggs are called pearls and beads in the trade. Photo courtesy Petrossian.

Small-grained pike roe is pale gold in color with a mild, delicate taste. It is best used for hors d’oeuvres, garnishes, or on blini or toast points with crème fraîche, as shown in the photo at right.


Another term for eggplant caviar, a dip or spread made with eggplant, tomatoes, onions, green and red bell peppers and parsley. It contains no caviar.


  Pike Roe Caviar
Pike roe is available at

Also called payusnaya or pajusnaya. The eggs that are broken in the sieving process, or are otherwise weak or damaged, are made into pressed caviar. While pressed caviar is made from the ripest beluga, osetra and sevruga eggs, the product is completely different from fresh caviar; it is much oilier, saltier and more pungent. The eggs are cleaned, combined, packed in linen bags and hung to drain. As salt and moisture drain away, the eggs are pressed into pressed into a paste that is available in block or spread form. The spread version is popular on toast or with hot potatoes; the blocks can be sliced like truffles and served over pasta—or in cubes, on toothpicks. Approximately three pounds of roe produce one pound of pressed caviar.

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Pressed Caviar
Above: Caspian pressed caviar ready to spread, from Below: Pressed caviar cubes from Jacques Pepin, available at Dean & DeLuca.

Pressed Caviar

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Last Updated  Apr 2018

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