Craving Cajun Caviar For The Holidays
Beluga. Ossetra. Sevruga. Cajun?
Caviar connoisseurs can spend thousands to feast on an ounce of roe, or fish eggs, that’s at the top of the luxury food chain. But New Orleans-based Louisiana Caviar Co. is capitalizing on a more economical seafood delicacy called Cajun Caviar. Hoping to become a bigger fish in the small pond of purveyors, the “born in the bayou” business is expanding its brand’s product line just in time for the holidays.
“We are excited about the launch of Paddlefish Caviar because it’s not only complementary to our other products, but it also offers customers something unique,” said Amy Hollister Wilson, co-owner of Louisiana Caviar Co. “Our Paddlefish roe comes from the Mississippi River in Tennessee and has a beautiful color, ranging from moss green to steel gray. It’s similar in flavor to Caspian Sea Sevruga, but American Paddlefish is a more affordable alternative as well as domestic.”
According to market research company Technavio, the global caviar market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.73 percent from 2017 to 2021. You can find and buy caviar from $10 (Alaskan Salmon) to $34,000 (Iranian Beluga Almas) an ounce. Wilson said Cajun Caviar offers a reasonable price point, which starts at $24 an ounce, while packing a sophisticated taste.
“Because it doesn’t carry the big price tag like other domestic and foreign caviars, our Paddlefish Caviar makes a wonderful gift for your friends and family that enjoy the small luxuries in life,” said Wilson.
Traditionally, caviar is made from eggs harvested from different species of sturgeon, but the popularity of fish roe in modern cuisine has widened the channel for competitors to swim into the mainstream. Cajun Caviar’s mild, earthy flavored Paddlefish Caviar offers large, delicate pearls that aficionados dub “American” caviar and claim is a good substitute for Beluga. It’s such an accessible and commensurate choice that Petrossian, the king of the sea leading international caviar brand, carries its own “Chataluga Prestige” version. At Cajun Caviar, it’s available as a three-pack of 1 oz. jars or individually in 4.5 oz. jars. Additional Cajun Caviar products, made from bowfin, include the Original Cajun Caviar, with mild, delicate flavors and firm, black pearls and Spicy Cajun Caviar made with ghost peppers that Wilson said provide spice without the burn.
“Cajun Caviar has been on the menu at Commander’s Palace since Chef Emeril Lagasse oversaw the kitchen, and its quality has only gotten better,” said Tory McPhail, executive chef of acclaimed New Orleans restaurant Commander’s Palace. “Having the opportunity to utilize a product with such richness and delicacy is a dream. The fact that it’s harvested right here in our waters makes it extremely special, and much more personal for me.”
Instead of being procured from various European rivers, The Black Sea and The Caspian Sea, Cajun Caviar is hand-harvested by Cajun country fishermen in the freshwaters of south central Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin. From early December through February they fish for choupique, or bowfin. Wilson said the natural black color and delicate taste of the roe is not compromised by artificial additives, colorings or preservatives. With less than five percent salt content, Cajun Caviar ranks among the finest Malossol caviars in the world, Wilson said, meaning the caviar is of such high quality it needs little salt to preserve it. Cajun Caviar suggests its perishable products be savored within four to six weeks of purchase.
“I use it because of the flavor profile,” said Chef Nina Compton, “Top Chef” TV show runner-up, fan favorite and owner of Compère Lapin restaurant in New Orleans. “And the eggs have a nice pop when they’re on the palate.”
“We pride ourselves on the quality of our caviar,” said Wilson. “The Louisiana Caviar Co. has been perfecting the process for more than 30 years. Cajun bowfin swim around in the nutrient rich waters of the Atchafalaya Basin. The taste is more mild and delicate in flavor, and the eggs will actually separate in your mouth. Our Cajun Caviar fishermen are the same men and women who catch the Gulf shrimp, crawfish, frog legs and fish we love to enjoy here in the south. The number of fishermen vary year to year depending on the harvest, and I’m sure they enjoy eating the final product as well.”
The Louisiana Caviar Co. is co-owed by Wilson, Alden Lagasse, wife of famed Chef Emeril Lagasse, and Chef Alison Vega-Knoll of restaurant Station 6 Seafood & Oyster Bar in Metairie, Louisiana.
“As a chef, I’ve had the opportunity to use a lot of different caviars on my menus, but I’ve used Cajun Caviar for more than 20 years,” said Vega-Knoll. “The process that is used has been perfected over the years, which has enhanced the quality. Even in the last few years we’ve seen a better product. It’s a product I believe in.”
Since 1986, Cajun Caviar has been processed and packed by hand according to a traditional Russian method. Wilson said their product is also garnished with nutritional benefits. “It’s a great source of many different vitamins and minerals including Omega 3,” she said. “The added value with Cajun Caviar is that our price point is so affordable. Now you can indulge year round, and not just on special occasions, and consume those vitamins and minerals more often.”
Cajun Caviar’s three selections are an appetizer to the brand’s growing accouterments including crème fraîche, mini toasts, mother of pearl caviar spoons and caviar gift sets. Orders can be placed online, and products can be found on the shelves of all Martin Wine Cellar and Langenstein’s locations in New Orleans and Destin Ice & Seafood and Destin Ice Market 30a in Destin, Florida.
Cajun Caviar’s product line