Caviar on Potato Galette with Soured Cream and Chives

Caviar has associations of aged nobility and monocled generals eating in Edwardian surrounds served by butlers and maids.

Luxury it certainly is, but a genuine one worth paying for on a special occasion.

This recipe gives a simple and delicious way to eat caviar. Traditionally, sieved boiled egg, chopped onion and lemon were served. These functioned to mask inferior or out of condition caviar and it amuses me to see the triumph on the occasional diner’s face when he demands these ‘proper’ accompaniments.

Buy the best caviar you can afford. The best sturgeon come from the Caspian Sea. These are fished by the Russians and Iranians, but it is the Russians who have the reputation for quality. They only export top-grade caviar while the Iranians will also export second-grade.

The three sturgeons that produce real caviar are beluga, ossietra and sevruga. They are valuable creatures and are treated with the utmost care when netted, for a sturgeon when frightened releases a sour-tasting chemical into the roe. The beluga is the largest sturgeon and can weigh up to 1800 lb (810 kg) and reach 20 feet (6 metres) in length. The female must be 18 to 20 years old before she produces eggs. Beluga caviar, the largest grain and most delicate of the sturgeon eggs, has a smooth light taste and its colour varies from light to very dark grey. Small wonder it is the most expensive. Ossietra is also a large-grain caviar, and varies in colour, sometimes taking on an almost yellow tinge. Ossietra sturgeon are smaller than beluga, weighing 100-200 lb (45-90 kg), and will also mature earlier at between 12 and 15 years. Sevruga sturgeon have a most distinctive shape with a long pointed muzzle in the form of a scythe. The sevruga matures early at seven years old and produces a medium-grain caviar. The colour again ranges from light to dark grey.

Caviar should be kept refrigerated until served. Unopened, the tins with their distinctive heavy rubber bands will keep fresh for a month. But, once opened, you should eat the caviar as soon as you can. Caviar should be spooned carefully from the tin so as not to break the eggs. Don’t use a silver spoon, though, for the metal will impart a metallic taste.

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Ingredients

  • 4 oz (100 g) caviar
  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) soured cream
  • 1 small bunch chives, snipped

Potato galettes

  • 2 large potatoes
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • groundnut oil

Method

The potato galettes

  1. Peel the potatoes. Do not put them in water after they are peeled, for if you soak the starch out of them, the galettes will not stick together.
  2. Grate the potatoes on the widest setting of your grater. Carefully season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a little groundnut oil in a frying pan until it is quite hot.
  4. Take a dessertspoonful of the potato, compress it briefly in your hand and place it into the frying pan. Let it become golden and crisp on each side, about 3-4 minutes each side. Pat dry on kitchen paper.

To Complete

  • Place a potato galette in the centre of each plate.
  • Mix the soured cream with the snipped chives. Spoon all round the potato galette. At the last moment spoon 1 oz (25 g) of caviar on top of each potato galette.
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