Russian Company Engineers Kosher Caviar Substitute


As the fine dining world responds to increasing demand from the kosher-observant, some barriers remain. We’ve written about kosher charcuterie and kosher “filet mignon,” but true kosher caviar is hard, perhaps impossible, to come by.

Technically, it shouldn’t be. Fish eggs, or roe, are kosher if the fish is kosher. But not all fish eggs are caviar- “real” caviar is generally from sturgeon, which is one of the few species of fish that is not kosher.

(To make matters more complicated, sturgeon’s kosher status is debateable, but for all intents and purposes, it is unkosher in the Orthodox and therefore kosher world.)

For years, Jews have eaten other fish roe, like salmon, as a substitute. And one Brooklyn-based company, Black Diamond Caviar, has begun marketing a fish roe from the (kosher) bowfin of Louisiana. But experts say these do not match the quality of sturgeon.

Enter Tzar Caviar, a Russian company developing an artificial caviar made from a fish bouillon wrapped inside a soft membrane. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that when observant Jewish-French entrepreneur Oliver Kassabi heard of Tzar, he urged them to get kosher certification.

Since then, Kassabi has helped the company sell hundreds of jars.

Tzar Caviar has a few other advantages: it is cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. Sturgeon is an endangered species due to caviar.

Kassabi also says that it tastes great, too. “I don’t know what real caviar tastes like,” he said, “but experts who do said it’s nearly indistinguishable from Tzar Caviar.”


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