Pressed caviar is a paste usually made of various grades and types of caviar. The product, which is made from the caviar eggs that break during the packing of traditional caviar, generally comes in a caviar tin. This unique type of caviar was once popular in France and the US, but has all but disappeared from the market in the last 20 years. Recently Jacques Pépin teamed up with California Caviar Company to develop and re-introduce this product to the market. Jacques Pépin
‘s Payusnaya (the Russian name for pressed caviar) combines the nutty flavor of California white sturgeon, the assertive full sea flavor from Paddlefish, and the creamy, rich taste of Hackleback roe.
Pressed caviar is stronger and more concentrated than whole caviar roe, is quite versatile, and is generally best incorporated into a recipe. The product can be rolled between two sheets of plastic wrap, and then cut into strips, circles, diamonds, or other shapes and used to add flavor and to dress up canapes or other hors d’oeurvres. It can be diced and added to tuna or salmon tartar. Th disk of pressed caviar can be frozen and then shaved or grated over pasta, eggs, or potatoes.
When recently presented with the opportunity to try California Caviar Company’s pressed caviar, I used some of Jacques Pépin’s recommended recipes and just modified them based on what I had on hand.
For a simple-to-prepare hors d’oeuvre, top sweet potato chips with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, some minced fresh chives and a diamond of pressed caviar. Alternatively, baby potatoes could be boiled, cut in half or sliced, then topped with the same ingredients.
Jacques Pépin suggested making an omelet with pressed caviar and sour cream. Below is the recipe I created.
Omelet with Pressed Caviar, Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 tablespoon fresh minced chives plus larger pieces for garnish
2 ounces smoked salmon
1/2 avocado, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 oz pressed caviar
First, roll the pressed caviar between two sheets of plastic wrap, creating a thin sheet of pressed caviar (about 1/16 inch thick). Cut half the sheet into strips and dice the other half.
Gently stir the chives and the diced pressed caviar into the creme fraiche. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet and add the eggs. Sitr the eggs until almost set. Place the smoked salmon and avocado over the middle third of the eggs. Remove the pan from the heat and put the caviar creme fraiche mixture on top of the avocado slices. Fold 1/3 of the omlete over the the center strip, then the other 1/3. Garnish the omelte with the strips of caviar, chives, and extra creme fraiche if desired.