Substitute caviar

Substitute caviar. Term that is applied to call the most widespread fish roe, and therefore cheaper. It bears no resemblance to sturgeon caviar , neither its size, nor its color, nor its aroma, much less its flavor. However, it is quite popular in kitchens around the world, as it is more affordable.


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  • 1 Emergence
  • 2 Different types of roe
    • 1 Salmon roe / Red caviar
    • 2 Lumpfish roe
    • 3 Flying fish roe
    • 4 Snail caviar / White caviar
  • 3 Sources


The very reduced habitat of sturgeons in the Caspian Sea , their current overfishing that has led the wild sturgeon to appear in the “Red Book” (endangered spices); and of course the price of caviar, are the reasons why the search for alternatives to find a substitute for sturgeon roe arose.

Different types of roe

Salmon roe / Red caviar

The history of salmon caviar is different, because it was never a question of falsifying sturgeon caviar, but rather it started to be manufactured around the same time, being a “noble” fish, highly appreciated for its firm and fatty meat , delicate flavor and color, which varies from pale pink to deep red (depending on the type of salmon).

It had a great acceptance and a constant demand from very remote times. However, its price never reached the astronomical level of caviar, due to its constant supply and abundance of salmon .

With much larger grains (between 4 to 6 mm.), With a color that varies from pale orange to red , it has a much more subtle flavor, with an unmistakable, slightly sweet fruity aftertaste.

Smoked salmon roe are also marketed. Its preparation is similar to that of smoked fish. The fish roe are introduced for a time in salt and weighed on top so that they release all the water they contain. Then they are rinsed and smoked with woods and herbs . The roe are smoked inside the bag that contains them. The result is a compact product with a firm texture, with a very intense flavor.

Lumpfish roe

Is the most widely used commercially, comes from the fish lumpfish a cold – water species widely distributed throughout the Nordic region, on both sides of the Atlantic of the North. Its main producers are Germany , Sweden , Norway and Finland . The original color of the roe varies from light orange to pink. For marketing, they are dyed with red or black dyes, to simulate salmon caviar and sturgeon, respectively.

The two sexes are easily differentiated; the males are smaller, with the highest dorsal crest and at the time of laying they acquire a pinkish or reddish coloration in the ventral zone, in contrast to the blue-green coloration of the females.

Flying fish roe

Widely used in Japanese cuisine for preparing and decorating sushi. It is achieved in several presentations:

  • Orange-lightcolor : natural flavor.
  • Blackcolor : had with squid ink .
  • Redcolor : chili and spices.
  • Greencolor : flavored with wasabi.
  • Deep orangecolor: flavored with ginger .

Flying fish (Exocetids) are found in all oceans , especially in the warm tropical and subtropical waters. Its most surprising feature is its unusually large pectoral fins, which give it the ability to fly and glide for short distances, 30 to 50 meters, but these adult fish are about 30 cm. reason why they are far from being simple long jumps out of the water, as it does for example the sailfish.

They also reach air speeds of the order of 50 to 60 km / h. They do this to escape predators, flapping their fins about 50 times per second. In some species the pelvic fins are also unusually large, making the fish appear to have four wings.

Snail caviar / White caviar

The eggs of snail or caviar white , is a product that every time wins more followers, especially among gourmets. Use of this novel product by the great chefs in their creations has allowed snail eggs to quickly acquire the status of a select and exclusive product.

Conch roe cannot be compared with sturgeon caviar or substitute caviar from other fish, although they are made using the same process.

It is a totally different product. Snail eggs are larger, more similar to salmon, and their flavor is very subtle to the forest, earth, with soft herbaceous notes. Its creamy, whitish color, turning to light brown, reminds of pearls.

Although we are talking about “substitute caviar” (which is not either, because in this case it is not a matter of imitating sturgeon caviar) its price imitates it a lot: currently one kg. of snail eggs or white caviar is around € 1,500.


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