LOUISVILLE, Ky., July 21 (UPI) -- A shrinking supply of caviar from the Caspian Sea has a Kentucky fish vendor cleaning up with a replacement -- paddlefish roe.
Pollution, over-fishing and corruption ravaged the once bountiful stocks of Caspian Sea sturgeon that produced sevruga, osetra and beluga caviar. The salty jam sometimes cost as much as much as $100 a spoonful.
But Lewis Shuckman of Louisville has doggedly gone about marketing his trademarked Kentucky Spoonfish Caviar, which acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck calls "the Chevrolet of caviar."
Now, Shuckman and his paddlefish eggs are the toast of the homegrown caviar community, an industry growing as fast as a well-fed fingerling.
Ten years ago, domestic caviar accounted for a sliver of American consumption. Today, some seafood experts say, the cheaper (though mushier) roe dominates with 60 percent of the market.
Paddlefish usually sells for $10 to $20 an ounce, compared with $50 an ounce for the least expensive imports.