So you've heard of "black caviar" and "red caviar" and you might have even heard about "white caviar" (most likely La Prairie skin care line..) but there's a particular "white caviar" getting some traction in the culinary world right now ... What is it, you ask? Well, it's not from a White Sturgeon, it's not even from a fish... It's actually delicately collected from Escargot--that's right, SNAILS!
Where Does Escargot Caviar Come From?
Traditionally farmed for their meats, these delicious little French delicacies produce beautiful large white pearls, typically around the size or a bit larger than a trout egg but with a firmer texture. Snail eggs are opaque and milky-white in color with a completely unique, earthy flavor that is hard to compare to anything you've had before. On the palette, a firm pop is followed by earthy hints of moss and mushrooms. Like escargot or fish roe, it is an unmatched, acquired taste. There are endless possibilities for chefs to play around white caviar!
Species: Helix Aspersa Muller
Snails are hermaphroditic (they possess both genitalia) but still need a mate to become fertile and produce roe. They’re usually ready to lay their eggs 2 weeks after mating, but nature has provided them with the ability to hold their fertilized eggs for up to a year if they don’t feel safe and that the surrounding conditions are not ideal. This is the reason why they have to be so carefully tended to on the farm.
Snails can take up to 48 hours to dig a hole, crawl inside, lay their eggs (10-15 minutes apart), crawl back out, and cover up the hole. Snail farmers then collect each egg (3-4 mm large) extremely gently, one by one. This can only be done by hand, resulting in a relatively high price for this labor intensive, rare product.
Each snail produces 100 eggs on average (which is equal to 4-5 grams). It can take 20-26 thousand eggs to produce 1 kilogram of caviar.
Serving White Caviar:
White caviar is served similar to other caviars: on Russian pancakes, toasts, crunchy pancakes made of potatoes or zucchini, with créme fraîche, sprinkled with lemon juice. It tastes great on slices of scallops, sprinkled with lemon, a bit of olive with rosemary, pinch of salt and flaked lime peel. It can be a great decoration for various dishes, whatever the chef’s fantasy may be.
It is also a nice additive to chocolate and deserts or an appetizer with champagne or vodka.
White caviar has to be chilled and stored below 50°F and served at room temperature.
It is not spread or mashed but delicately laid with a spoon, preferably made of nacre, turtle shell or gold.
White caviar is known in France as “caviar d’escargot“ and is becoming popular on the tables of London, Moscow, Emirates, Japan and USA.
White caviar is thought to help reduce development of heart diseases, prevent blood clots and improve blood flow. It's also known as an aphrodisiac.
The eggs include not only high protein content, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E and vitamins from group B, including folic acid, but most of all – exogenous amino acids which the human body is not able to synthesize independently. The eggs also contain lysine, leucine, isoleucine and valine. Snail caviar also includes cysteine which, apart from detoxicating the body, is necessary for synthesis of proteins, creatine and has high antioxidant features. As well, white caviar contains minerals – phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iodine, silicon and many more. Calorific value of white caviar is only 31 kcal per 100 grams, making it slightly less caloric when compared to the nutritional value of traditional caviar.
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