What is the difference between caviar and fish roe?

If you're interested in culinary delicacies, you're probably already familiar with caviar. However, many people enjoy the taste of this exquisite food without realizing exactly what it is. If you're interested in learning more about what makes caviar so unique, so flavorful and so luxurious, discover what makes premium caviar different from fish roe-and how to tell which one you're getting.

What Is Fish Roe?

Fish roe is another name for fish eggs. More specifically, it is the fully ripe and unfertilized eggs of a fish. Those eggs can be sourced internally from the ovaries or from an external egg mass.

The term "roe" also applies to eggs from other marine animals, like scallops, lobsters and shrimp. But fish roe can be taken from any type of fish, like salmon, trout, cod, paddlefish or whitefish.

What Is Caviar?

A picture containing tableware, dishware, cup, coffee cup Description automatically generated

Caviar is delicacy made from the roe of fish in the Acipenseridae family, more commonly known as sturgeon. That's an important distinction; while the fish eggs are roe, but only sturgeon roe can be considered caviar.

Where Does Caviar Come From?

Premium caviar must be sourced from high-quality sturgeon. These fish are typically found in specific regions in Italy, Asia and near the Caspian Sea. It then goes through a preparation process that involves sorting the caviar pearls by size and color and cleaning and rinsing them. And essential step is the salt-curing process, which helps to preserve optimal freshness and flavor. It's not until the curing stage is complete that the eggs are considered caviar instead of roe.

Fish roe, on the other hand, can be sourced from fish all over the world. These eggs can be consumed in the same way as caviar. The roe may be salt-cured like caviar (although they will not be called caviar) or left uncured (which is sometimes called "green eggs" by those in the industry).

It's important to note that, while it can still be quite tasty, regular fish roe is not considered a premium or luxury food in the same way that caviar is. Instead, they are generally considered to be a lower-quality substitute for caviar.

How Can I Tell If I'm Getting Real Caviar?

A picture containing table, plate, several Description automatically generated

In the United States, you need to have a little bit of caviar knowledge to make sure you're getting the real thing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows any salt-cured fish roe to be labeled as caviar as long as the type of fish is also listed on the product.

However, those in the know understand that "salmon caviar" isn't actually authentic. If the product simply says "caviar," that means it comes from the sturgeon family. By understanding how this labeling process works, you can shop smarter and make sure you are getting a quality caviar product that actually comes from the right type of fish.

The Wagyu Shop is a great source for premium caviar online. Options include delicious Osetra caviar as well as the rare Beluga caviar, both of which can be shipped directly to your door for a decadent and luxurious at-home dining experience.