Torah contains a lot of rules regarding what people of the Jewish faith are allowed to eat. Some food is strictly prohibited, and it significantly affects the diet of Jewish people. So, if you have Jewish friends you want to treat with a special dinner, you need first to check all the dishes you plan to serve.
Within this conversation, the question arises: in general, are fish eggs kosher, and particularly, is caviar kosher? The rules say that kosher caviar comes from kosher fish, so we first need to understand kosher fish rules.
The Basic Rules of Kosher for Fish
The Torah and the later religious texts say that the kosher fish is a fish that has scales. However, it is not that simple, as not every scaled fish falls under the definition of kosher. Though you might still need to double-check the production of every other fish type to avoid accidentally getting fish meat compromised with other non-kosher bycatch species, you might learn the basic principle of kosher fish. It claims that the scales of kosher fish can be easily removed without breaking their skin.
Ctenoid and Cycloid Scales
Ctenoid and cycloid scales are pretty thin types of scales, as they lost the mineralized tissue, which, in turn, makes it pretty easy for people to detach them. Hence, the fish with such scales are mostly considered kosher, namely perch, sunfish, salmon, trout, and some other quite popular species.
Is Sturgeon Kosher? The Problem Is in Ganoid Scales
So, what about sturgeon species like osetra, beluga, or sevruga? Unfortunately, the scales typical for this family are ganoid — solid tough scales that can't be removed without damaging fish skin. Hence, any type of sturgeons is not kosher and appropriate for the diet of Jewish people.
Our List of Kosher Fish
While the only fish family that produces authentic, true caviar can’t be served to Jewish people, there is still a big variety of fish that passes the required criteria. This list includes:
Our Non-Kosher Fish List
At the same time, some popular examples of seafood can’t be consumed by a Jewish person. Besides the aforementioned sturgeons, this list consists of:
Is Black Caviar Kosher?
At this point, you might come to the obvious conclusion: kosher black caviar doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, the best fish roes in the whole world are forbidden for followers of Judaism, as they are spawned from non-kosher fish.
There is no way to overcome the restrictions imposed by Torah, so caviar is forever banned. And while Jewish people who fully commit to religious rules can’t ever enjoy the unique taste of true caviar, there are still some kosher fish egg substitutes that will bring a lot of delight and enjoyment for regular consumers and connoisseurs.
We Have Prepared a Kosher Caviar List for You
If to stay precise, the definition “caviar” can be applied only to the fish roes produced by sturgeons. At the same time, common consumers do not know the difference and perceive any type of fish eggs as caviar.
However, in the case of kosher discussion, such term blending helps to find and choose sturgeon caviar substitutes. And to help you navigate the variety of available fish eggs, we collected the list of kosher products for you.
Alaska Wild Salmon Roe
Salmon produces one of the most popular types of roes known as red caviar due to its intense reddish color. It is an important part of dishes in several cultures and is often served on top of buttered toasts supplemented with a glass of champagne. Red caviar is quite popular, as it is significantly cheaper than traditional, high-class black caviar, but has a full-bodied, salty flavor with bright notes of honey. Apart from color, we would say that this type of roes is caviar closest to sturgeon.
Alaska wild salmon spawns big eggs, so you will get a great texture of Keta Red Caviar, rich in valuable micronutrients, namely omega-3.
Golden Whitefish Roe
American whitefish that comes from the Great Lakes area is famous for the specific yellow color of its roe. The eggs are small and have a crunchy texture, while the flavor is pretty mild and crisp, which would make it a good start for newbies who aren’t used to the specific tastes of fish eggs.
Golden caviar will become a great addition to pasta or sushi and a nice stand-alone appetizer for your table.
Tobiko is a fish roe spawned by a flying fish. Despite being quite exotic species, it is still considered kosher. Tobiko is a traditional product in Japanese cuisine and is often used in sushi.
The natural color of tobiko is bright red, roes are quite small, and while having a bright appearance, it has a pretty mild taste. However, due to its crunchy nature, it gained a lot of popularity and become a common ingredient for many Japanese dishes. Most probably, you can taste tobiko in California rolls.
Masago comes from a capelin, fish that belongs to the smelt family (hence, the second name for masago — smelt roe) and is rarely used for cooking. At the same time, its roes have become another common ingredient for Japanese dishes.
Masago has a much milder taste and doesn’t have a crunchiness like tobiko, but it is still used by many cooks to substitute the latest. It can also highlight the taste of sauces and become a great garnish for complex dishes with rich flavors.
Bottarga caviar might be one of the most interesting types of fish roe you will even see. And the reason is the unusual processing method: the roes of grey mullet fish are salted and sun-dried, then pressed into a sausage-like shape and dipped into beeswax. As a result, you get a product you can cut into slices and eat with vegetables, pasta, omelets, and grains, seasoned with olive oil, soy sauce, and a drop of salt.