By: Deborah Reid
A glistening mound of caviar elicits an automatic response in food lovers; their taste buds begin to water. The buttery, nutty, delicate flavour and the salty ocean spray when eggs burst on the palate, is a sublime pleasure. Purists love it unadorned, eating it straight from a mother of pearl spoon, or off the back of the hand. Others prefer it with classic garnish like toast points, small yeasted blini pancakes, sieved egg yolks and whites, brunoise of shallot, sour cream, or a sprinkle of chopped chives. Caviar is the cornerstone of any celebratory occasion and requires minimal fuss to serve. For too long it’s been synonymous with beluga, an endangered species whose caviar garners astronomical prices. But innovation in the market has changed that, and we’re proud to carry one of the most sustainable caviars in the world. Even better, it’s from Canada. Northern Divine caviar is sold in small tins ranging in size from 12 g to 1 kg (.42 to 35 oz.). The eggs vary in colour from rich grey to black pearl. Bury a tin in chopped ice, or spoon it on freshly shucked oysters, smoked fish croquettes, steamed new potatoes or tiny latkes. Fold it into a rich butter sauce to serve with halibut or salmon. One serving contains a daily dose of vitamin B12, and it’s high in vitamins A, E, iron, magnesium, and selenium.
It takes eleven years for a white sturgeon to reproductively mature. When an inseminated female reaches 50 kg and has a round, taut belly, a biopsy is done to check egg quality. If the eggs are ready for harvest, the fish is humanely killed and put on ice for an hour, before extraction of the eggs and ovary. The eggs are pushed through a screen to separate them from the tissue, and then hand-washed repeatedly. Some eggs go to an on-site hatchery, a system designed to protect eggs from vulnerable wild white sturgeon stocks. Caviar from a single sturgeon is never mixed, for flavour and traceability.
Northern Divine’s caviar-meister has more than 25 years of experience, training with top experts from all over the globe. The eggs are salted and refrigerated for weeks so the salt can permeate the eggs. A taste test is done to determine if the caviar is ready, after which it’s weighed and packaged. It’s certified organic and uses Canadian salt to bring out the natural flavour. It contains no antibiotics and no added hormones.
Northern Divine ethically raises Fraser River sturgeon in land-based water recirculation systems, re-using 99% of the pristine cold groundwater from mountain lakes and streams. The fish eat a diet of organic fish meal, fish oil, and wheat. It’s been rated among the top five sustainable caviars in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine and is certified sustainable by Ocean Wise, and recommended ‘Green,’ best choice, by SeaChoice and Seafood Watch.