Our columnist Mark Hix on the importance of buying sustainable caviar and branching out into piranha

 
Mark Hix
A Picture taken on September 29, 2010 sh
This piranha has eaten Mark Hix and highly recommends it (Source: Getty)

I was introduced to Mottra caviar some eight years ago and have never looked back. Caviar always has – and always will be – one of those ingredients with luxury status. There have, however, been issues with its sustainability over the years: sturgeon stocks have depleted in many parts of the world because of the fish being killed for their eggs.

Mottra farms the sturgeon in large tanks, and once the fish are six to seven-years-old, they’re “milked” of their eggs and released back into the tank for continued production. The fish are graded and there are some big old fish in the tanks that swim with species they are familiar with, like catfish and piranha.

Yep, you read that correctly; forget what you’ve learnt from James Bond films, piranha are very happy swimming around with their prehistoric- looking friends. I ate piranha for the first time last week when I visited Latvia. Mr Mottra himself, Sergei Trachuk, is experimenting with farming them and I can confirm they’re delicious; I’d certainly buy them if they were widely available in the UK.

Read more: Mark Hix thinks the UK is taking its eggs for granted

Anyway, back to sturgeon, and the purpose of my visit to Riga; I often host Mottra dinners in London, but tonight I was to cook a caviar menu for the Latvian minister of agriculture, Janus Duklavs. It was an intimate dinner for 20 guests and I collaborated with star Latvian chef Martins Ritins in his restaurant Vincents in central Riga.

Martins and I cooked up a six-course dinner, which included my favourite dish: sevruga caviar on a baked potato, with an oyster lightly cooked in champagne and set back in the shell. It’s accompanied by a champagne and cucumber jelly with a spoon of sterlet caviar on top.

Martins cooked a delicious chilled pea soup with king crab and Oscietra caviar, served with a raw scallop, sliced and served back in its shell with a dashi dressing. I slipped in an old classic to finish from my days at Le Caprice: Nordic iced berries with Amadei hot white-chocolate sauce.

Mottra caviar baked potato

Serves 4

4 small baking potatoes weighing about 200-250g each

60g Mottra caviar

50-60g butter

½ tbsp chopped chives

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3tbsp good-quality mayonnaise

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/gasmark 5. Place the potatoes on a tray and bake for about an hour, or until soft.

Leave to cool then halve them. Scoop the potato into a bowl – keeping the skins – and mash with the butter and chives. Season to taste.

To serve, refill the skins with the mashed potato, then spoon the caviar over the potato until it’s covered.

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