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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chinese Caviar

A while back I read several articles on French chefs using caviar not from the Caspian sea but from China. Frankly, when I read it I was quite surprised to learn that the caviar produced in China was that good. Since I am not too far from China, I figured I should try to get some. A few internet searches suggested the farmed raised caviar, Kaluga Queen, made by Hangzhou Qingdaohu Xunlong as the one to try.

As far as I know Kaluga Queen is not available in Taiwan. Therefore, my first attempt to obtain the caviar was to ask my sister-in-law, who works in Beijing, to buy some. It turned out she was unable to find the caviar in any retail store. I didn't want to pursue other methods so for a while I simply forgot about it. Recently in a family gathering, for reasons I cannot remember, the conversation turned to caviar and I chimed in about the reported quality of Chinese caviar. Upon learning the caviar came from Hangzhou, one of my very resourceful relatives took upon himself to get it. A few weeks later, some Kaluga Queen Ossetra caviar showed up in my apartment.

With the caviar in hand I invited my relatives over for dinner to try them. I decided to make a couple of dishes based on Eric Ripert's recipes. I love the food at Le Bernardin. Since I can't make it to Ripert's restaurant anytime soon, I should try to make the food myself. The dinner's first course was Smoked Salmon Carpaccio with Brioche and Caviar. This was actually not difficult to do. There are only four ingredients, the three listed above and creme fraîche. I couldn't find creme fraîche so I made some myself with heavy cream and yogurt. I must admit I didn't trim the smoked salmon into a perfect pointed oval as the kitchen at Le Bernardin would do; unlike a restaurant, if I trimmed off the edges I would still have to eat them myself. Nevertheless, this was a very good dish.

The second course I made was Linguine with Caviar and Sea Urchin. The sea urchin was blended with butter, tossed with the pasta, sprinkled with some Parmesan cheese and sea urchin, and topped with some caviar. This was probably the most expensive dish I ever made but also one of the most delicious and memorable.

The caviar by Kaluga Queen was really good. While it is expensive, the caviar from China is still cheaper than the ones sold in the retail stores in the West. Maybe one day the Chinese caviar will be available for purchase in Taipei. Perhaps the Chinese will figure out a way to maintain the quality but lower the price. For now, having Kaluga Queen at home was a rare moment of luxury.


  1. Looks amazing! Went to this fun seafood market, with attached food stalls and restaurants, called 上引水產, on Saturday. It's owned by the 三井 people and located right behind 濱江市場. I wonder if they sell caviar that's from this region...

  2. Your writing is fine and gives food for thought. I hope that I’ll have more time to read your articles.