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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC


Faux Caviar

Overfishing and poaching have caused wild sturgeon populations to fall so precipitously. Loss of habitat and rising ocean temperatures have reduced its numbers so precipitously, its survival is now seriously endangered. Fish egg caviar has a very high climate footprint of 54 kg CO2eq per kg in both Iranian and German factories and 50 kg CO2eq per kg in Swedish plants. The benchmark climate footprint for commercially made faux caviar products from Indian factories, made from kelp extract with various thickeners and stabilizers, has a climate footprint of 5.7 kg CO2eq per kg. It is very high in sodium and iodine.


So instead, let’s make our own caviar with boba (tapioca pearls), made from cassava root starch (tapioca) so we can really have a low environmental impact and control the level of salinity we want. 


Prep 5 minutes

Cook 25 to 30 minutes

Makes 1 cup


1 cup par-cooked medium or large tapioca pearls

2 to 3 tablespoons red and yellow beet juice from 1 boiled large golden and 1 small red beet, sliced thinly

1 tablespoon aged tamari, or to taste


  • Bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil and add tapioca pearls. Stir every 5 minutes to prevent their adhering to the bottom of the pot.
  • Begin checking smaller tapioca pearls for doneness at 20 minutes. Larger pearls may need up to 10 more minutes. The pearls are ready when they are translucent with only a small white dot in their centers.
  • As the pearls are cooking, cook the beets separately in two small pots. Just cover with water, cover and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook the beets until they are tender, 5 to 10 minutes depending on their size.
  • Take the beet pots off the heat, uncover and to allow them to cool until step 9.
  • When the pearls are cooked, use a strainer to drain the water, and place the strainer with the cooked pearls in a bowl of cold water.
  • Run cold water over the pearls to cool them and remove excess starch. As they are rinsing, use a clean hand to separate them one from another.
  • Shake the strainer to drain residual water and transfer the pearls to a bowl or storage container. Season to taste with aged tamari.
  • Color them convincingly with gold and red beet juice. Note that golden juice will not stain as effectively as red juice. If you are trying to imitate salmon roe, color the pearls first with golden juice, before adding very little red slowly to avoid over darkening the caviar.
  • Drain any excess liquid after you can arrived at the color you like.
  • Refrigerate until use.


Faux Caviar

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