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What is Hackleback Caviar?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hackleback caviar is often called the American equivalent to Russian sevruga caviar, though it is less expensive. It is harvested from either hackleback or paddlefish sturgeon. Like all caviar, hackleback caviar refers to fish roe or fish eggs, which can come in a variety of color and flavors depending upon the fish from which they are derived. Hackleback caviar is black caviar, but actually may be found in a dark gray color too.

If you’re used to small types of roe, hackleback caviar can make quite an interesting change, since the eggs are much larger. Connoisseurs of caviar especially find the deep and nutlike taste of this roe appealing. It’s often sold in place of sevruga sturgeon caviar caught in the Caspian Sea because the flavor is remarkably similar.

Even though the price of hackleback caviar is lower, this is not exactly an inexpensive food. A single ounce (28.35 g) will cost at least $15 US Dollars (USD). An ounce is the traditional serving size, since caviar has a very strong and salty taste, so you can see it can be quite expensive to serve it to a large group of people. It doesn’t come close to approaching the price to Beluga caviar, often considered the highest quality caviar. Beluga costs about ten times the amount of hackleback. Thus comparatively, this American caviar is relatively cheap.

You can find hackleback caviar on the Internet and in gourmet food stores, where it is frequently sold in tins. One of the reasons, besides price, for the rise in popularity of hackleback, which may sometimes be sold as “Russian Style Caviar,” is that overfishing of the Caspian Sea has led to a major Russian caviar shortage. Many are very pleased with the taste similarity between hackleback and servruga, and are glad a less expensive alternative can be substituted for the increasingly difficult to find true Russian versions.

When serving this caviar, if you are not using it to garnish food, you will almost always use a tiny caviar spoon made of mother of pearl, or if you can’t get that use a wooden or even a plastic spoon. You should not ever serve any type of caviar with a metal spoon, since the caviar acids easily degrade metal. The roe will absorb the flavor of the spoon and have a bitter metallic taste. Hackleback caviar should be served on ice, and quite cold. It should not, however, be served frozen. Most people like to arrange a small ramekin of caviar over a bed of ice, which keeps it perfectly chilled.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By SarahGen — On Dec 23, 2014

@bluedolphin-- American hackleback caviar is a great gift idea for special occasions. It doesn't break the bank and it tastes quite good. As long as it's transported in the right conditions, it will be fine. If a company is shipping the caviar, the will overnight it and take all necessary precautions to protect the caviar with ice packs, etc. But I bet you could find it locally too. Caviar is best fresh and icy cold (but not frozen like the article said. Some brands even offer these as a gift pack along with special crackers to serve them with.

Even though hackleback is basically the most affordable caviar out there, it still has to be reserved for special occasions. If one gets into the habit of having this special treat frequently, it does get costly. I speak from experience. It's my favorite type of caviar. The fact that it has a lower cost doesn't make it an inferior product. I actually think it's better than sevruga, creamier.

By bluedolphin — On Dec 23, 2014

I've been wanting to try this type of caviar for a while now but I don't know of any store in my area that sells it. Can caviar be purchased online? I'm sure it can't be shipped for a long period as it will spoil.

By burcinc — On Dec 22, 2014

I've never been able to like roe. My parents like it and they prefer hackleback because of the low cost. I tried it but like I said, I've never been fond of caviar. I can't get over the fact that these are little fish eggs and they would have turned into fish if we had let them be. I find it inhumane to consume this. I've said to same to my family but they obviously don't agree.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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