Beluga caviar is a delicacy that comes from the beluga sturgeon, which is also sometimes referred to as the "European sturgeon." The caviar comes from the roe, or eggs, that are deposited by the female beluga sturgeons. The fish are most commonly found in the basins of the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. They are also sometimes found in the Adriatic.
Unfortunately, the beluga sturgeon has been overfished and is in jeopardy. One of the main reasons for this overfishing is the market demand for beluga caviar. In fact, the beluga sturgeon is currently listed as "threatened" under the subcategory "critically endangered" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) List of Threatened Species. In hopes of allowing the fish to repopulate, some countries have banned the importation of this caviar. In some cases, those bans have been lifted or partially lifted.
The value of beluga caviar is astounding. The price for just two pounds (about 1 kilogram) can range between $7,000 USD (US Dollars) and $10,000 USD. The cost, of course, depends on the supply and how difficult it is to procure the caviar as well as the distance between the place where the caviar has been harvested and its final point of sale. Despite the bans and partial bans on this type of caviar, some caviar connoisseurs have found ways to acquire the delicacy.
Like most kinds of caviar, beluga caviar is served with a non-metallic spoon. Common materials for caviar spoons include bone and mother of pearl. This is because a metal spoon is said to transfer a metallic taste to the caviar, which has a very delicate flavor. Some caviars are served as a garnish. Beluga caviar, on the other hand, is served on its own with minimal garnish or accompanying foods. It is common for this type of caviar to be served simply on toast. It is quite common for caviar to be served with other luxury foods and beverages. Fine champagne, for example, is often enjoyed along with the roe.
The distinguishing characteristics of beluga caviar, other than its price tag and its delicate flavor, are it color and the size of the individual eggs. This type of caviar is deeply black in color. Furthermore, beluga sturgeons create very large eggs. The size of the eggs are quite similar to the size of green peas.