of the Caspian Sea
Caviar is the roe from the sturgeon, the world’s most valuable fish. Their naturally protected surroundings have helped them ignore the evolution of millions of years. The Caspian Sea has remained deep and warm with the sturgeon perhaps our only link to the stimulating, generous tastes and flavours known to our distant ancestors.
Caviar is a capsule of invigorating energy, filled with the proteins, minerals, vitamins and oils essential for life. It is eaten in a completely unmodified natural form, through knowledgeable careful handling and perfect transportation and storage.
Sturgeons are harvested in nature during the spawning seasons of spring and autumn.
Each fish landed is an event in itself. It is numbered and washed before removal of the precious roe. All surfaces are clean and cleansed to ensure absolute purity.
Between the late 80’s and 90’s, Princesse d’Isenbourg et Cie had been awarded the accolade to work directly with “SHILAT”, the official Iranian Fisheries Organisation, and became their sole UK distribution agent for Shilat’s Iranian Caviar. Only the finest Caviar deserves the Princesse d’Isenbourg label.
This is ‘The Celebrated Sturgeon Species’. A wild specimen was caught, measuring well over 9 m and weighing a massive 1400 Kg. This species carries steel blue to grey and black skin markings with light ventral and white creamy bony scutes down its back. Its flesh and its most precious “Beluga Caviar” represent an attractive an undertaking as the actual perpetuation of this rare species.
Best known as the Stellatus or Stary Sturgeon and easily recognised by its elongated nose and head. This part of its anatomy represents 25% of the total body length. This sturgeon keeps its beautiful markings throughout its life. Reaching a maximum of 1.50 m in the wild but considerably less in an aquaculture environment. All Stellate Sturgeons are keen jumpers. Despite its smaller physical attributes, roe remains small and graceful, appearing in luminous metallic-grey and with a memorable, fresh sea-salt flavour.
This is a true representative of the Acipenseriformes family. Aquaculture offsprings are reared to an average of 1.25m and rank second in growth rate and longevity. The rare diamond variety has beautiful star-like markings but they are invariably lost, turning grey-black in colour during adulthood. The Gueldenstaedtii medium sized roes’ bear a delicious buttery and aromatic flavour, featuring ample colouration choices from medium yellow, olive green via hazelnut brown to anthracite.
The Siberian Sturgeon is the most popular and by far the easiest aquaculture species to breed. Resilient and tough, with a healthy and rapid rise to adulthood, this sturgeon will reach a maximum length of 1.2m in clean and comfortable aquaculture surroundings. The skin is brown-grey and black with the underside in contrasts of white. The end of their nose features a white tip. Siberian Sturgeon caviar roes are of a medium size, typified by a deep mahogany-brown colour with a velvety taste.
Being the second largest species in the Acipenser family, this is an ancient, freshwater, bottom dwelling feeding fish and characterised by a long and large cylindrical body, a subconical snout and four Barbels (beard-like) located at the base of its head. Reaching maturity within 10 years, the Transmontanus produces flawless, large sized roe in a solid dark chrome appearance.
The starlet is a slow-growing sturgeon of a very tolerant nature. In captivity it measures 0,60 – 0,90 m, reaching maturity over a period of ten years. Distinctive features are white edge markings with lines along its back to the pectoral and front fins. The small and light blue-greyish roes set it apart from the Stellatus
An Odyssey through Time
Genus Acipenser constitutes the largest specimen within the Acipenseriformes order, including approximately eighteen of the twenty-seven recognised sturgeon species. The word “Acipenser” translates from Latin to English as “sturgeon.” They are considered “living fossils”, sharing many morphological and biological features with ancestral fish.
Present-Day sturgeons have changed little since pre-historic times, perhaps due to their perseverance and relatively insufficient stimuli for change. Sturgeons have very few natural predators since they can develop into phenomenal sizes. The crustacean species, upon which the sturgeon’s diet depends, have also varied little. The role of the sturgeon in the aquatic ecosystem has been blessed with resilience, and thus been exempted from alterations over millions of years.
Wild Caviar – Glorious Past
of the Caspian Sea
For centuries now, sturgeons have been caught and been of the utmost interest from an economic, gastronomic and cultural perspective. To monarchs’ delight, the “Royal Prerogative” guarantees the possession of any caught sturgeons, whilst their delectable Roe (may only be called Caviar after completion of salting process) was championed as the ultimate, fitting luxury for Kings and Queens in those Halcyon Days. Furthermore, the Sturgeon’s Meat, which is customarily cured and smoked, established its gastronomic presence ever since the 18th century and was popularised as “ZAKUSKA” – an elegant array of Russian Hors d’Oeuvres quickly spanning across Western Europe.
Sturgeon’s Legendary Past and Magnificent Present
Traditionally, only two Nations have been major Caviar-Exporters:-
The former Soviet Union (USSR) and Iran. Wild sturgeons underwent a dramatic decline and became rare and scarce as early as the beginning of the 20th Century. They were driven to extinction, not because of accidents or their failure to adapt to natural changes but as a result of Intense human interference, such as construction of water dams, restricting the sea’s fresh water input, thus impeding the sturgeon’s migrations. The little remaining water was contaminated by agricultural biocides and industrial wastes. The Caspian Sea’s Pollution, due to oil exploration, further decimates the Sturgeons’ prehistoric habitats. The few surviving adults subsequently face vigorous Over-Fishing and Poaching without the opportunity of a Life-Line to perpetuate. Re-population has thus been severely curtailed with human activities being the major contributory element to the demise of wild sturgeons.
It is of paramount importance and of the utmost urgency to now call for and to develop, engineer and implement strategies for a conservation culture to aid and abet this species’ recovery in their natural habitats.
In short:- The sturgeon’s regeneration is our responsibility.