Five Recipes that Show Off How to Serve Caviar
As rich in flavor as it is in history, caviar has been associated with luxury and decadence for more than a century, though how to serve caviar enjoyed more humble beginnings. According to a 2018 archeological study in Germany, Stone Age humans dined on caviar some 6,000 years ago—long before blinis sour cream and ice existed. By 1240 AD, the glistening black pearls were coveted by ancient Russians, who harvested the eggs from sturgeon fish in the Caspian Sea and ingested them quickly to ensure freshness. A simple piece of bread, if available, was the only accoutrement. Soon, they started salt-curing the eggs to preserve them—the technique still practiced today.
If only the Russian Tsars could see how far service and quality of the “food of kings” has come. How to serve caviar became more elevated through time, as its popularity grew across the continents. Blinis, with origins in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, found their way back to Russia over time, and the quintessential caviar companion was born. When learning how to serve caviar, we recommend starting with the caviar blini and its classic accompaniments and get creative from there. The photos and recipes that follow provide inspiration.
How to Serve Caviar – A Classic Presentation
Place caviar in its tin or glass jar on a bed of crushed ice with a mother of pearl spoon for service. (Reputable caviar companies include a spoon with each order, as caviar may oxide when exposed to metals found in silverware.) Serve the caviar with fresh blinis—here’s our classic caviar blini recipe—and traditional garnishes: crème fraîche, hardboiled egg, red onion and diced chives. Build your caviar blini, starting with fish eggs first on the savory pancake and mix and match garnishes. We love sharing this classic presentation in Jordan’s Champagne & Caviar Tasting and at culinary events, such as Christmas at Jordan.
Once you’ve indulged in a classic caviar service presentation, experiment. Consider caviar the secret weapon in your recipe garnish repertoire. Caviar should be served fresh, not cooked. These briny eggs are packed with flavor, and their color, shape and texture lend another dimension to any dish. Simply add a petite quenelle of caviar on top before service—and don’t forget to use the mother of pearl spoon. To inspire your creative caviar service, here are five recipes from our wine country kitchen that showcase caviar with some of its favorite companions of land and sea.
Our recommended caviar brand is Tsar Nicoulai. In blind tastings of the artisan producer’s entire line of sustainably farmed sturgeon roes, the Tsar Nicoulai Reserve won almost unanimously as the most versatile caviar for wine pairing with Jordan Cuvée, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. We like the product so much, we even collaborated to create the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar.
A recipe featured during the Jordan Chef’s Terrace Tasting experience, this is a luxurious dish brings together briny Tsar Nicoulai caviar with creamy corn for contrasting flavors of salty and sweet. The toasted hazelnuts help this rich appetizer complement the oak-aged flavors in both Jordan Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Roasting carrots, beets and cauliflower brings out their natural sweetness, making for a beautiful flavor contrast with the salty caviar. This elegantly simple side dish marries the delicate earthiness of cauliflower florets, creamy butter and fresh herbs with the rich, robust flavors of caviar. If this is your first foray into serving caviar, the recipe offers an unexpected backdrop for any meal. Roasted beets with carrots and caviar is another favorite Jordan Chardonnay pairing.
Caviar is a luxury component for recipes in winter months, when comfort foods, such as noodles, rule. This Soba Noodles with Caviar & Kale recipe features bright pickled beet muted by a purée of lacinato kale and Japanese buckwheat soba noodles. The ponzu and tamari mirror the caviar’s salinity and bring out notes of citrus and concentrated umami, while the beet “cloud” is a playful textural element for Jordan Chardonnay.
For this Bay Scallop with Pickled Persimmon and Caviar recipe, we use bright “pickles” of dried persimmon skin and caviar as garnishes, which add acidity, texture and a pop of color to this winter appetizer recipe. The Martha’s Vineyard Bay Scallop is worth seeking out, but any fresh, dry-packed scallop may be substituted. The sweet, creamy texture of the scallop balances the minerality of Jordan Chardonnay.
Our final recipe foray into how to serve caviar is a recipe that is both luxurious and simple to prepare. A decadent take on cauliflower soup, this creamy dish can be presented as a first course or a passed hors d’oeuvre at parties. The recipe pairs seasonal cauliflower with earthy curry and briny caviar to complement the bright, crisp acidity of Jordan Chardonnay or Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble.
How Americans serve and enjoy caviar has changed dramatically in the last 200 years. As far back as the late 1800s, the United States had established a thriving industry where caviar was so abundant that bars served it free, like peanuts in some places. Immigrants from Europe and Russian are mostly responsible for bringing us this culinary treasure. Unfortunately, heavy fishing severely depleted the U.S. and international sturgeon population, bringing the prized sturgeon to the brink of extinction. Today, wild caviar is illegal around the world. Chefs and gourmands alike owe a big thanks to aqua farmers, who raise white sturgeon in special ponds in the United States. The best sustainable American caviars, farm-raised in California and the Great Lakes, bring not only a level of indulgence and excitement to any dish, but also offer a depth of flavor that lends dimension and texture to even the most unexpected recipes. Caviar’s comeback in the last 50 years is reason alone to learn how to serve caviar.
If you’re not in the mood to cook, a quenelle of caviar roe can be placed on your hand where the thumb and index finger meet before using your tongue as a spoon—as close to the ancient service technique as you’ll get. But after you read these recipes, we hope you’ll be inspired in your quest to serve caviar with style like a winery chef.
Want more caviar insight? Read our Four Unexpected Wine and Caviar Pairings That Work article.