By Harold McGee
Russia pioneered the development of salmon caviar in the 1830s, and it’s a delicious and affordable alternative, with its striking red-pink translucence and large grains. The separated eggs of chum and pink salmons are soaked in saturated brine for 2 to 20 minutes to achieve a final salt level of 3.5–4%, then drained and dried for up to 12 hours. Lumpfish caviar dates from the 1930s, when the sevruga-sized eggs of this otherwise little-used fish were salted and dyed to imitate the real thing. Whitefish eggs are similar in size and left undyed to retain their golden color. In recent years, the roe of herring, anchovy, and even lobster have been used to make caviars. Caviars may be pasteurized (120–160°F/50–70°C for 1–2 hours) to prolong their shelf life, but this can produce a rubbery off-aroma and chewy texture.