Thanks to Erika of The Cosmopolitan Hour for mentioning this on Facebook or Twitter or whatever it was, because it stuck in my head and popped out when I was shopping for some domestics: Ikea carries vegan caviar. It’s in the refrigerator section of their little food market, stuck in the middle of the fishy kind. How was I not going to buy it?! It was screaming WTF Wednesday! Clearly a product that did not need to be made. I highly doubt any vegan out there has ever said, “Sure, giving up cheese was easy, but I sooo miss my caviar.”
I checked the ingredients. It’s seaweed extract, salt, blah, blah, xantham gum, and vegetable carbon (coloring). I can do this.
I did some caviar research, ’cause I don’t know from fish eggs, and apparently it is best served on some lightly buttered, lightly toasted bread. Any talk of creamy accompaniments only clue your guests in to the inferior quality of your roe. So toast and seaweed and salt—I can do this.
And then I opened the jar.
OK, that’s creepy. I made sure I had Tom on board for this one—he’s actually eaten fishy caviar in sushi, back in his omni days. If I ended up spitting it out, he could follow through for sure.
Here’s the assembly. Increasingly creepy the closer it gets to taste time. But shock and amazement and all things crazy, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great, either, but I got through it and tasted some more on its own to get a full grasp on what I was tasting. The texture is like wet poppy seeds, and it’s just super salty with some tang to it. Tom described it as “salty pickle rye.”
Will I buy it again? We actually talked about using it in sushi. Our normal sushi is the garden-variety vegetable sushi (although Tom has made his ridiculous deli roll). With the fakey shrimp or crab meat we could make some novelty fakey fishy sushi.
But to those real caviar-eaters out there, I still don’t get you. They’re friggin’ fish eggs.