Cavianne - Artificial Caviar that Might Save the Sturgeon
Cavianne may do for caviar what margarine has done for butter... become an artificial substitute that approaches the original in both looks and flavor. It could also do something for caviar's source, the Caspian Sturgeon - chiefly, help save it from extinction.
Black sturgeon caviar from Russia along with Iranian beluga caviar is one of the world's most prized delicacies; the highlight of caviar gift baskets and formal occasions everywhere. It's also one of the priciest - not a good thing for the source of the so-called "black gold" - Caspian Sturgeon.
These huge, unusual looking fish can live for a century or more, and have changed very little since the time of the dinosaurs. Steady demand for black caviar today is spurring rampant sturgeon poaching while severe pollution in the Caspian Sea is ruining the environment for what few fish remain.
Caviar's Catch-22... fish grow from eggs
"It's alright for those who wants the real thing to stick to the real thing," says Susumu Mikami of Japan's Hokuyu Foods Co Ltd., "but the real thing is disappearing."
Mikami's solution? "Cavianne", the only imitation black caviar sold in Japan and the 75-year-old Mikami's own invention. The recipe includes an unlikely mix of ingredients such as squid ink, apple pectin, extracts of sea urchin, oyster and scallop, and seaweed gum to hold it all together. Getting' hungry?
Russian caviar - the other black gold
The production line at Hokuyu's factory in the northern Japanese city of Aomori cranks out 4 tonnes of Cavianne each year - which sounds like a lot but actually equals only a fifth of Japan's annual black caviar consumption, including domestic caviar. That may increase as the supply of real black sturgeon caviar dwindles along with the sturgeon who produce it.
If Mikami & company can continue to improve Cavianne, its main attributes of low cost, low calories and man-made production could do a lot to relieve the pressure that's pushing the ancient Caspian Sturgeon to the fate that befell the dinosaurs they once frolicked with. Now that, caviar lovers, would be very egg-citing news indeed! (via AFP)