(THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - After five years in Thailand, the Russian-Thai company Caviar House is now gearing up for the kingdom’s first locally produced caviar from its Thai Sturgeon Farm in Hua Hin.
Those with luxurious tastes are probably already familiar with Caviar House, run by Noppadon Khamsai and his Russian partner Alexey Tyutin, and their premium-grade caviar imported from Russia and China. But since the beginning their aim has been to sell black caviar in Thailand as well as other Asian markets and this led to the founding of the Thai Sturgeon Farm.
It took more than a year to construct the sturgeon breeding complex, and 18 months to obtain the necessary approvals. Located 20 minutes outside of Hua Hin town, the 1,500- square-metre farm is expected to produce a minimum 1,500 kilograms of black caviar a year. Caviar, sturgeon meat and value-added products will be distributed on both the national and international markets.
“The farm is designed specifically for breeding sturgeon fish. The equipment comes from all over Europe and the fish feed is imported from Denmark. We are making sure that the fish that grow here will produce the best-quality caviar, comparable to the best caviar from Russia.” Tyutin told XP during a recent visit.
He is now based in Hua Hin so he can tend to the fish around the clock. Even though all the systems are automated and computerised, the living condition is vastly different for the fish whose native habitat is in sub-zero water.
“The water has to be controlled very strictly. The PH level, oxygen level and the temperature have to be just right. We also have to cool the water so the fish don’t grow too fast and get too fat. Food is important too. We spent a long time looking for the best quality feed, and ended up having to import it as we couldn’t find what we needed locally. This is crucial as the quality of the caviar depends on what the fish eats,” he explained.
Once an affordable, commonly available delicacy, the ban on catching sturgeon in the wild prompted a surge in caviar prices over the past six or seven decades, making it a synonym for luxury, royalty and excess.
However, over the last 50 years, Russian scientists have developed the fundamentals of bioengineering for breeding these valuable fish species. The Russian method and technology are accepted as the best in the world. The farm’s technology was developed by certified ichthyologists and engineers, including Dr VasilyKrasnoborodsko, who is the best-known fish-breeding specialist in Russia.
Tyutin also explained that unlike in the wild, sturgeon breeding in farms gives an opportunity to get the black caviar without killing the fish. The scientist Angela Kohler from Jakobs University in Germany invented the method of extracting the caviar from the fish body with a Caesarean-like surgical procedure. This method allows three times more caviar to be removed. The females are not killed in order to extract the caviar but can be used again for fertilisation. A great advantage of this procedure is that the extracted caviar does not become overripe and deteriorate, and its quality remains extra high.
Sturgeon breeding farms operate in Russia, Israel, Uruguay, Hong Kong, Vietnam and even the United States, but not all of them are caviar-oriented. At the moment, the biggest wholesale customers are China and Japan. In the next few years, once the fish reach puberty and the caviar can be extracted for caviar. Hua Hin will be among the key producers in Asia
Black caviar is produced only by the sturgeon family of fish living in the Caspian Sea and the Volga and Amur rivers. However, the very high demand for this delicate product coupled with the development of techniques has allowed sturgeon, sterlet and even beluga fish to be farmed as well as for the production of new hybrids between the fish family members resulting in new and different caviar tastes.
Though the farm has not yet produced any caviar, the firm has already introduced four varieties of roe sourced from their partner farms in Russia and China that use the same breeding methods and farming know-how.
Caviar House products include the smooth and delicate Classic Sturgeon Caviar from Siberian sturgeon fish; the intense and flavourful Premium Sturgeon Caviar from Russia; the firm and buttery Royal Oscietra Caviar from beluga-sturgeon hybrid fish and the Beluga Caviar, which is the most sought-after among the black caviar types.
Prices range from Bt1,500 (S$60.24) to Bt15,000 (S$602.43) depending on size (30 grams to 200 grams), and grades.
For more information, visit www.CaviarHouse.co.th. Call (082) 5258887 and (090) 7900997.