When talking about caviar, people often think about Russia and vodka. What if Chomp tells you that the tradition of caviar preparing and eating wasn't originated by Russians but by Persians?
The term "caviar" originates from the Persian word "khav-yar", which means "cake of strength" or "cake of power" in English, as the people of Persia believed that caviar held medicinal properties which some benefits are proven to be true by modern-day scientists. Although Persians from the Kura River area were the first to start eating fish eggs, the practice of salting fish roe for consumption originated in China, where they used carp eggs.
Caviar has a long history, dating back to the Greek scholar Aristotle in the 4th Century B.C. He described it as sturgeon eggs that were served at banquets with trumpets and flowers. However, it was the Russian Tsars who elevated caviar to the ultimate luxury status. The golden roe of the Sterlet sturgeon, which is now almost extinct due to overfishing, produced the highly sought-after "imperial" caviar. Over time, caviar became popular in Europe and was valued by different cultures. In fact, one jar of caviar was worth as much as one hundred sheep in the second century B.C., making it food for the privileged few.
The food scene in Thailand has experienced significant growth and evolution, with restaurants making use of exotic ingredients. Caviar is one such delicacy that is in high demand. When caviar started becoming popular, restaurants in Thailand bought only imported caviar. Many European brands contain borax, a banned substance in Thailand, and the non-borax options are relatively high.
In 2011, Russian entrepreneur, engineer and aquaculturist Alexy Tyutin and Thai real estate developer Noopadon Khamsai founded Thai Sturgeon Farm in Hua Hin, Prachuab Kiri Khan Province, Thailand. The coming of Thai Sturgeon Farm is a game-changer in the caviar market in Thailand. After 5-6 years of waiting for the first sturgeons to mature, caviar from Thai Sturgeon Farm appeared on the tables of renowned fine dining restaurants in Thailand.
Hybrid Kaluga/Amur Sturgeon is the breed that produces Thai Sturgeon Farm's caviars. The company farms sturgeons in a closed recirculation aquaculture system (RAS) to produce three lines of premium-quality caviar for national and international markets.
As mentioned earlier that the master class included a tasting session. Chomp had the opportunity to taste all three of Thai Sturgeon Farm's products starting from the mild-flavour product and progressing to the strongest.
Imperial Oscietra Caviar is a golden caviar. This product is salted lightly, making it tastes mild and very creamy. Due to its subtle taste, it's quite popular among Thai consumers.
Fine Selection Oscietra Caviar is a brownish-grey caviar. This line of caviar has higher salt content than the golden Imperial, which determines the flavour of this line to be saltier, but the creaminess remains the same level.
Russian Traditional Caviar is dark to black. This one is the saltiest compared to the first two due to its being highly salted the traditional Russian way. This one is slightly creamy.
Not only Chomp got to try the products but also the food using caviar, created by the Chef-owner of Keller Bangkok, Chef Mirco Keller, who has worked in Thailand for more than a decade. For this master class, Chef Mirco offered a five-course menu.
The meal started with Oscietra Caviar, a dish consisting of seaweed financier, beetroot, bonito and Russian Traditional Caviar, that offered earthy, umami, salty, seaweedy and buttery flavours with multiple textures that tickled that tongue and the roof of the mouth.
Mushroom Soup was a pleasant surprise. The creamy mushroom soup was served in an espresso cup and accompanied by bouncy potato bread and umami Hijiki seaweed butter. The soup hid the precious caviar under it.
The third course was Obsiblue Prawn consisting of prawn, oyster cream, anchovies, granny smith apple and Fine Selection Oscietra Caviar. This dish is refreshing and full of umami elements and acidity.
Next was Japanese Halibut, a square-cut chunk of halibut meat with Imperial Oscietra Caviar lying on a bed of potato purée, served with sauerkraut and sansho pepper sauce. The dish had compelling textures, and the flavours of every ingredient were delicately introduced.
Last but not least, Guava. This final course consisted of nougat, coconut, yoghurt and aloe vera. It was a dessert and palate cleanser.
Chomp is very happy that Thailand can farm sturgeons and produce local caviar.
If you're interested in purchasing some caviar, the products are available on Caviar House of Bangkok.