Pressed Caviar is a dense briny paste composed of various caviar roe that have been damaged or discarded during processing and grading. Pressed caviar can also be made from mixtures of roes from various batches of different sturgeon varieties, including eggs that are overripe or immature, or otherwise deemed unsatisfactory for inclusion as true caviar.
In an act that would be sacrilegious to traditional caviar, the caviar mixture is now "pressed" with a lever press, extracting most of the oils from the roe. What remains is a dense pasty mass which is extremely salty and fishy in taste. This paste can now be used as a spread and can be applied like a butter or cream to various foods.
The Russian term for pressed caviar is payusnaya ikra - the name deriving from the Russian word pay, which means to divide and share according to an agreement. When fisherman had caught sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, the processed, pressed and divided teh eggs between them, according to the ranking of the fisherman aboard.
The most popular pressed caviar was reputed to come from Salyan in Azerbaijan. The caviar was pressed into 480 kilogram barrels, then placed into air-tight seals and transported to various regions throughout Europe for sale.