Throughout time, caviar has upheld its reputation as a luxury food item.
From the 12th to 20th Century, most caviar came from the Caspian Sea, bordering Russia and Iran. The demand for the delicacy was so great that the waters were becoming overfished and polluted. This led to a ban on importing Caspian beluga caviar. Luckily, because of today's technology, caviar is making a comeback thanks to aquaculture.
South Florida-based Sasanian Caviar produces both imported and domestic caviar and roe from more sustainable fish such as trout, salmon, and whitefish. The company, which supplies many South Florida restaurants, searches the globe for product. Michael Jalileyan, president of Sasanian Caviar, says, "Sustainable alternatives have actually increased demand. Iran is already producing farmed Caspian Sea caviar, and we plan to commence imports very soon. This will include Russian osetra, Siberian baerii, and, once it is legal, Caspian beluga."
With so many alternatives available, increasing numbers of restaurants in Miami have incorporated caviar into their menus, whether it be used in tastings or as glamorous garnishes. Here are the five best caviar dishes in the Magic City.
5. Causa flor at La Mar by Gaston Acurio
Chef Diego Oka's causa flor is a take on the traditional Peruvian whipped-potato dish. A squid-ink-infused causa is topped with lobster tartare, gold, avocado, and paddlefish caviar. Oka says of the creation: "With the causa flor, I wanted to do something sculptural, using art as my inspiration. The causa is very versatile because you can infuse it with so many colors and flavors."
4. Caviar tasting at Gianni's
Executive chef Thomas Stewart celebrates caviar with tastings six to eight times a week. Diners have three caviar options, each by Petrossian, starting at $175. To complement the caviar, each tasting also comes with deviled eggs, pickled garnishes, crème fraîche, and blinis. Caviar cavaliers should go for the Tsar Imperial Kalluga ($305), which Gianni's describes as “Amur River Beluga” for its likeness to the nearly extinct species. Chef Stewart recommends a glass of Veuve Cicquot ($30) to pair with the meal.
3. Caesar salad at Caviar Russe
Chef David Valencia adds ten grams of caviar, along with a quail egg and Parmesan crisp, to a romaine mixture to create this savory salad. Alone, the salad costs $45, but opt for the restaurant's power-lunch deal: This three-course, $35 meal includes the salad.
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2. Toro nigiri at Juvia
Chef Sunny Oh takes a beautiful piece of bluefin toro from a 500-plus-pound tuna and tops it with konbu soy sauce and royal white sturgeon caviar. Why add caviar to a piece of toro? Oh's answer: "It's a decadence of luxury. There is nothing more to say about it." Two pieces of the nigiri-style sushi: $40. The view from Juvia's dining room at sunset: Priceless.
1. Soft egg at Alter
If there's one dish that hasn't stopped trending since Alter opened in May 2015, it's the soft egg by chef Bradly Kilgore ($25). Kilgore wanted to mimic the melted, savory top part of French onion soup for this dish, using quality ingredients such as scallops and Siberian osetra caviar. "The salinity of caviar accenting the sweetness of the scallop is a wonderful combination," the chef says.