Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Trout Caviar: All American Caviar?

Despite sturgeon sourced caviar’s apocryphal Russian origins, does trout sourced caviar qualify as bona fide American caviar? 

By:  Ringo Bones 

In actuality, modern commercial caviar started in America, in fact it started in Albany, New York. Remember Albany Beef? It’s a sturgeon sourced delicacy where the sturgeon roe caviar was originally as the byproduct originally given for free like complimentary free peanuts in bars around Albany close to sturgeon processing plants. Given that surgeon breeds more slowly in comparison to other commercially caught fish in the United States, substitutes to sturgeon roe were tried and those from species of commercially caught fish with better fecundity that taste closer to sturgeon roe are marketed as caviar substitutes with varying degrees of success. One of these is trout caviar. 

Trout are important game fishes that are included with salmon in the family Salmonidae. They are distributed circumpolarly in Arctic and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Characterized by soft-rayed fins, small scales and an adipose fin behind the dorsal fin, trout occurs in salt and fresh water and in many cases both sea-run and land-locked populations of the same species are known. All species migrate upstream to spawn. There are two main groups, the chars and trouts, distinguished by the arrangement of the teeth and the shape of the vomer bone in the roof of the mouth. 

Among the many species of chars, two of the best known are the brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, of eastern North America and the Dolly varden, Salvelinus malma, of the west. These fishes have both red and light spots on a dark body rather than the red and black spots on a lighter background found in most Salmo. The large lake trout, Cristivomer mamaycush, of the Great Lakes region and northward is also char. The other group of trout includes the steelhead, Salvelinus gairdneri, or rainbow trout, a native of the Pacific coastal area and the brown trout, Salvolinus trutta, of Europe. Both had been introduced widely in the United States and elsewhere. In the Rocky Mountain Region and westward there are other species. Some are of great beauty, such as the golden trout Salvelinus agua-bonita; cutthroat trout, Salvelinus clarkii and Yellowstone trout, Salvelinus lewisi. 

Before the widespread commercial production of trout roe caviar, the eggs of trouts are often raised in fish hatcheries and so the fish had been widely distributed. Hybridization makes this fishes difficult to identify. Their beauty and splendid game qualities as well as their excellent flesh are praised by all. In many southern states in the United States the large mouth bass, Huro salmoides, and the weakfish, Cynoscion regalis, are called trout. Trout have been introduced in the Southern Hemisphere. The New Zealand Chilean native trouts belong to a different family, the Galaxiidae.