A lot of questions seem to circulate around Beluga Caviar… its availability, legality and so forth so we are here to clarify as much as we can for you!
Being the rare and delicious gem that it is, Beluga Caviar, coming from the Beluga Sturgeon (Huso Huso) is the most expensive Caviar. It is found largely in the Caspian Sea but can also be found in the Black Sea basin as well as the Adriatic Sea.
Beluga Caviar is known for its large and soft, dark grey pearls that are accompanied by a smooth, nutty flavor. Sturgeons have been present for many millennia. These prehistoric animals were swimming around during the Jurassic period and they are even sometimes described as living fossils.
In the early 1900s, the enterprise of Caviar was booming and there was such a surplus that it would occasionally be served (on the house!) to bar patrons.
However, the love of our fishy friends left the wild Beluga Sturgeon critically endangered which, in turn, caused the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the importation of Beluga Caviar from the Caspian Sea in September of 2005. Very soon after, that ban was extended to the entire Black Sea basin.
While Beluga Caviar is not currently legal, there are still purveyors who mislabel and even some who have had Beluga frozen since before the ban was in place. There is even a black market, as there is for any high value item.
Despite these negative aspects, the Caviar world as a whole is working to better preserve wild sturgeon stock. And the more we learn, by failures or otherwise, the closer we are to creating a better world for not only ourselves, but the animals around us.