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June 10th, 2008
Gutted
Info-Graphic: A Guide to Sushi Fish: Roe

CaviarPeople often misuse the term “caviar” to refer to salted roe — or unfertilized eggs — harvested from any number of fish. Authentic caviar consists only of black sturgeon roe, while other forms of roe (like the flying fish roe, or “tobiko”, pictured here) are not considered to be caviar. In order to harvest fish roe, the ovaries of female fish are beaten to loosen the eggs, which are then freed from fat and membrane by being passed through a sieve. The liquid is pressed off, and the eggs are mildly salted, drained again, and packed into tightly sealed tins. High demand for true caviar has decimated most of the world’s wild sturgeon population — particularly the three species living in the Caspian Sea, which produce the most highly-sought caviar (Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga). Illegal fishing, pollution, and loss of habitat have left these million-year-old fish on the brink of extinction and, since sturgeon do not reproduce until they are twenty years old, they will have a difficult time sustaining continued heavy fishing. Lake sturgeon from Canada have also suffered due to overfishing. Instead, select caviar from white sturgeon or paddlefish sturgeon farms in the U.S., which employ environmentally-friendly aquaculture methods, and avoid wild caviar in general.

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