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An Interview with the Queen of Caviar – Masha Moro

Masha Moro Caviar is a local caviar purveyor! She is helping bring caviar to a wider audience while demystifying and simplifying everything about caviar.  A mission to make caviar understandable and accessible so it can be enjoyed more frequently. We interviewed Masha to learn more about her love for caviar! 

Why do you think caviar is intimidating? How did it get this reputation of it only being for special occasions?

It wasn’t always for special occasions! In fact, a century ago, caviar was freely served in bars and taverns, just like peanuts and pretzels are now, to entice patrons to drink more beer. Caviar became expensive only in the last forty years or so as caviar producing sturgeon were overfished and it became rarer, and thus more expensive.  But, not all great caviar is expensive – at Masha Moro Caviar, our mission is “exceptional caviar at an everyday value.” I love educating people about caviar and helping them make it part of their regular food experience.  Caviar is the original superfood – it is full of healthy protein, magnesium, zinc, essential fats, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids. In my opinion, the only reason caviar is thought of as intimidating is because of a lack of education surrounding the product and limited access to quality caviar.  I work at changing this misconception every day.

What is your current favorite type of caviar and what dish does it pair best with? 

Being a caviar connoisseur most of my life, I notice a distinct taste difference among all types of caviar and I can name most of them with my eyes closed. For instance, I taste the delicate silkiness of Siberian Sturgeon versus the buttery, nutty flavors of Russian Osetra.  Oftentimes I like to enjoy two to three different types at the same time because the flavors play off each other.  Similar to fine wine tasting, caviar brings a unique pallet experience. However, if I had to pick one, I would say my all-time favorite is Sevruga. It is rich and flavorful, briny, and ocean-like. My favorite way of eating any caviar is simply with a spoon – I prefer to indulge in caviar’s unique flavor without having any other food distractions. Maybe this is why caviar never lasts in my fridge!

What is the best way to serve caviar?

The traditional way of serving sturgeon caviar is with blini (a thin pancake) which is topped with crème Fraiche, chopped red onion, egg whites, and yolks, sometimes chives or capers. I personally love oysters so having caviar on oysters is my all-time favorite. It is truly decadent! However, there are limitless possibilities with caviar.  Salmon roe goes very well with eggs so think of using it instead of your salt for omelets or when making deviled eggs (salmon being very affordable caviar but just as highly nutritious).  Steak, duck, and pasta can all be topped off with a spoon full of caviar.  One of the latest trends is “dressing up” everyday foods like potato chips and hot dogs with caviar.  Innovative chefs are also putting caviar in deserts.  You see, mixing salt and sugar has always been a culinary staple in any chef’s kitchen but now they are adding something that is not only unique but also good for you in the place of basic salt. A good way to think about it is how caramel is both salty and sugary at the same time.  I could talk about caviar dishes forever! 

Why must a mother of pearl spoon be used and not a regular metallic spoon?

Spoons made of mother of pearl, wood, stone, or any natural material are best.  And if you don’t have any of those handy, plastic works just as well.  Metal spoons should be avoided because they can give the caviar a slightly metallic taste.

Why is caviar so misunderstood?

There are 27 different natural species of sturgeon and several “hybrid” species.  Each has different grades, and many brands have confusing names and labels.  Many caviar retailers love to overcomplicate caviar and perpetuate the “exclusivity” factor to justify an artificially high price.  

Masha Moro Caviar wants to simplify the process, so I have personally curated a small selection of my favorite caviars and I have priced them at a lower price point than others.  The best advice I could give is to start with one of the more popular and well-known caviars like Osetra, Kaluga or Sevruga, and if you like it, you can get more adventurous.  Just enjoy the process of serving and eating caviar and make it a small indulgence that you share with your closest friends and family on any occasion, or just because it’s a Tuesday!

Can you tell us where you are from, and how you have come to love caviar?

I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia.  Back then, caviar was available to most Russian families and I had developed my taste for it since I was young.  In the late 80s and 90s the Caspian Sea, which borders Russia and Iran, was plentiful with sturgeon.  With time however, overfishing depleted the sturgeon population and in 2003 the U.S. banned some imports of caviar-like Beluga.  With time the development of aquafarms made caviar much more widely available at a reasonable price point.  Today’s caviar is an exceptional product we can all enjoy in plentiful quantities and varieties.

We heard that your whole family enjoys caviar, even the youngest members! What’s the best way to introduce caviar to a newbie?

Don’t be afraid to start them early! It is true, my almost 3-year-old eats caviar like a true champ – he picks up the plate and licks it at the end – making his mama very proud. But not all kids will automatically love it. It’s a good idea to start by putting caviar on something they already love, like eggs or avocado toast.  Maybe give salmon roe to start because the actual caviar roe is big enough for their little hands to grasp so they actually have fun eating it.  But of course, nothing is better than setting a good example. If they see you do it, they will want to try it themselves!  

How to introduce caviar to an adult who is a newbie? Very similar.  Just get them to try it maybe on a thin cracker or a toast. Anyone who is into seafood and loves sushi or oysters should be an instant fan.  I saw the transformation firsthand when I recently held a caviar tasting at Sickles Red Bank.  It was incredible, people that never had caviar before, and were hesitant to try it, ended up loving it so much and even being so surprised by that.  It truly made me feel so excited to be part of their experience.  To be able to help these customers discover a new side to life means everything!

What is a caviar dish that more people need to know about?

I don’t think there is a specific caviar dish that comes to mind, it is more of an experience that I would like people to know about. If you’re a foodie and enjoy trying new things, caviar is for you!  Experimenting with caviar by adding it to the foods you love is the way to start. Once you acquire an appreciation for it, you might become a purist like me and start eating it with just a spoon out of a jar.  Simplicity is something that cannot be underestimated. Taking the time with each caviar spoonful while popping the eggs on the roof of your mouth, moving it slowly around your mouth, and swallowing.  Taking a sip of your favorite champagne or dry white wine in between the bites and consider it a day worth living!  It is a unique indulgence.   

You can pick up some delicious Masha Moro Caviar at Sickles Red Bank!

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