Are Caviar And Roe The Same Thing?

When people think of caviar, they think of luxury. In pop culture, the two have practically become synonymous — just ask the lyrics of Queen or Snoop Dogg. If you know nothing else about it, you probably know at least two facts: Caviar usually costs a pretty penny, and this delicacy is actually a type of fish egg.

Roe may lack the fame and luxurious connotation that the former holds, but don't write it off just yet. If you're a sushi aficionado, you probably already know this — it's a common ingredient in Japanese dishes. Health-minded individuals probably also know this, as roe is often classified as a "superfood," low in calories and packed with protein and other nutrients. If you don't fall into either of these categories, you might still ask yourself, "What is it?" The short answer is, once again, fish eggs.

But although a square is always a rectangle, a rectangle isn't always a square — and that same logic can be applied to caviar and roe.

The difference lies in the species

So, caviar and roe are fish eggs — this much is true. But these aren't just two different words for the same food. What makes each unique is one of specificity: roe refers to unfertilized eggs harvested from any marine animal; caviar refers to salt-cured, unfertilized eggs harvested from sturgeon fish, specifically. In short, caviar is simply a type of roe. Other varieties include tobiko (from the flying fish species) and masago (from capelins), which you've likely had with sushi before; ikura, or salmon roe, is another option referred to as "red caviar." 

However, according to Caviar Star, the difference also lies in where the seafood delicacy originates and how it's prepared: almost all caviar comes from the Black and Caspian Seas and is usually salt-cured — a preservation method that uses dry, edible sodium. There are also different types of caviar: Beluga, osetra, and Kaluga are a few examples. The price point might mean that it's not a staple on the restaurant's menu, but if you get the chance to try it, take it. There's nothing quite like a blini with crème fraîche, caviar, and chives paired with a glass of champagne. Cheers!