Many years ago, we came across a “vegetarian” caviar. This was produced by a now-defunct company in the Los Angeles area and, If I remember correctly, was invented by a cardiologist. I am not sure what it was made of (probably seaweed like the current version we are showing here). We were rather impressed with the similarity in appearance and texture to real caviar. When we ordered caviar last time (from finecaviar.com), I noticed they also had “Kelp” caviar and ordered some along with other items. We served the kelp caviar on homemade blini, with homemade creme fraiche garnished with the green part of scallion (we did not have any chives).
This kelp caviar came in a 3.5 oz glass jar. This is said to emulate the appearance and taste of sturgeon caviar.
When I opened it, I noticed it had more liquid than real caviar or the previous vegetarian caviar we had.
I drained the kelp caviar in a fine meshed strainer as seen below. After which it looked more like sturgeon caviar. By itself, it tasted like kelp (of course this is made of kelp) and lacked the good “pop” mouth feel of real caviar.
However, when this was placed on top of the blini with creme fraiche (see the first picture), the kelp caviar tasted more like real caviar. This was certainly not bad for fake caviar and will be very handy if you have vegetarian guests. Apparently other vegetarian caviar products are also available. Although we must say we prefer real fish eggs and caviar, these vegetarian caviars are cheaper, available year round, keep longer, and taste better than you think. I got the idea for a future dish; serving salted kelp 塩昆布 on blini and creme fraiche which may taste similar to caviar although the texture maybe off.