Every country and culture has its own culinary delight. Sometimes these are their best-kept secrets, sometimes they are protected by the government, and sometimes they are just plain strange. Have you ever dined on some of the most expensive meats in the world? Do any of these meals cost more than your car or even your house? Have you ever wondered how the other half... eat?
World’s most expensive foods ranked by Price
|Top 10||Price||Number of Internet Searches|
|Almas Caviar||$25,000 per pound, or £200-£8,000 for a box||27,000|
|Glass Eel||$1849 per pound||250|
|Jamón Ibérico||£500 - $4500||250|
|Abalone||$500 - $700 per kilo||21,000|
|Wagyu a5||$250 per pound||18,000|
|Bluefin Tuna||$200 per pound||7,100|
|Coffin Bay King Oysters||$100 each||11,000|
|Foie Gras||$40-$80 per pound||27,000|
Almas Caviar - $34,500 per kg
It was only a matter of time before caviar made it onto the list. Almas (Russian for ”diamond”) caviar is taken from the rare Iranian Albino Beluga sturgeons when they are around 60 years old. Because these fish are so rare, they are protected from importation, adding to the exclusivity, and the value, of their eggs.
Unbelievably, someone has tried to top the most expensive caviar with their own twist. Just one teaspoon of Strottarga Bianco caviar will set you back $40,000. The eggs also come from an albino sturgeon but have been laced with 22-karat gold. Because of the addition of gold, some argue this is not true caviar, but if you’re willing to spend the equivalent of a Mercedes-Benz A-Class per mouthful, it may be worth a try!
Almas caviar can be purchased (in a 24-karat gold tin) from online retailers specialising in premium food products, or if you’d like to be served this extortionate ingredient by an educated specialist, you could visit the Almas Caviar Bar, situated in the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong.
Ayam Cemani - $2500
$2500 for a chicken? Sounds crazy, but looks pretty cool! The Ayam Cemani is a very rare breed of chicken found in Indonesia, with a peculiar look… both inside, and out. Its gothic aesthetic transcends feathers: even the meat is completely black. This is because of a condition called fibromelanosis, which is simply the opposite of albinism, causing the telltale black pigmentation. While anything from Ayam Cemani hatching eggs to breeding pairs can be purchased online, you’ll have to go further than eBay to try their meat. Further, meaning Indonesia. This is where the extremely rare bird is found most frequently, and while the meat is no different from chickens available in our supermarkets except in visuals, the black pigmentation is reason enough for some to travel further afield to taste (and buy) this rare delicacy.
Glass Eel - $1849 per pound
With a price point that can change by the thousands year on year, glass eels (baby eels) cost almost $2000 on average in 2021. Farmers depend on young eels to make a profit, as no farms have been able to breed eels efficiently in captivity. The eels are also raised, not caught as adults, so farms must be able to cater for and healthily bring up hundreds of thousands of eels a year. The staggering (and varying) prices are due to a global catch decrease of 75% since 1980. There are many eel farms across the world, the ones with the priciest found in the US and Japan.
Jamón Ibérico - £500-4500
Perhaps another well-known product on this list, anyone who has holidayed in Spain or Portugal will have seen pigs legs hanging from the ceiling of tapas bars in sunkissed alleys. It is likely that you have wandered past, or sat beneath, one of the most expensive meats in the world. Jamón Ibérico, or Iberian ham, is a cured leg of pork, and can be sold for $140 per pound, or anywhere from £500 up to almost £5000 for a whole leg. The fat content in this ham should mean it sticks to a plate, so it is common that your server will tip the plate vertically before serving it to you. This is proof of a high-quality product, and proof that you are getting what you have paid for. Because Iberian ham is produced in Spain and Portugal and is charcuterie meat, it is far more accessible to us in the UK. A whole leg can be purchased online through Spanish food specialists, or you could find pre-prepared and portioned Iberian ham in supermarkets like Waitrose.
Abalone - $500 - $700
In cold waters off the coasts of New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Western North America, and Japan, lives a rather unremarkable looking mollusc. The brown-lipped abalone’s high price is due to fishing regulations, and how difficult it is to catch them. Their plain, unexceptional shell makes them very hard to locate, and the tough exterior means they latch onto rocks with an impressive grip, in very tight spaces. However, this species of abalone is at risk of extinction, so many countries have capped fishing at 20 abalones per fisherman per day. The difficulty to catch paired with the exclusivity means prices rise exponentially. Because abalone fishing is very regulated, it is hard to come by for us in the UK. It seems we'd have to travel to East Asia or Australasia to try this extortionate mollusc.
It’s also worth noting that when purchasing a kilo, this includes the heavy shells. In reality, you’re paying up to $700 for only around 250g of meat.
Fugu - $470
Now, a pufferfish might not be the most expected item on this list, but once you know more about them, you’ll appreciate the price tag much more. Fugu can cost almost $500 to purchase, not because of its rarity or difficulty to catch, but because of the preparation it takes to make them edible at all! Each blowfish contains enough of the poison tetrodotoxin to kill 30 adults, so to be allowed to prepare such a deadly creature for consumption is quite the feat. In fact, it takes three years of training to obtain a license to be able to cook with this creature. It is thought that around 100 people die annually from pufferfish poison, and the majority of these are from attempted consumption. Does anyone else have a newfound respect for seafood chefs?
Unsurprisingly, fugu is not permitted for sale in the EU due to its dangerous nature but is available to private diners as part of the highly secretive Fugu Supper Club, which serves a £250 six-course fugu menu.
Wagyu A5 - up to $250 per pound
Probably the most well known, and most commonly enjoyed, product on this list, is the wagyu A5 steak. It was made famous by its beautifully marbled meat, and made infamous from theories surrounding how wagyu cows are treated - remember hearing that the cows are massaged daily and given beer? Wagyu steak is a clear favourite of many meat lovers. While a single steak can fetch over $200, a wagyu cow can sell for over $30,000. But why is this, if they aren’t being plied with alcohol and don’t have personal masseuses? It’s the regimented upbringing and breeding of these animals that gives them their unique, marbled meat. Wagyu cows can never go out to pasture, and their very specific diet, paired with tight government regulations to maintain value, make this meat some of the tastiest, and most famous in the world.
While you can purchase wagyu from supermarkets occasionally (remember when Aldi had a £5 wagyu steak?) the UK has six recommended wagyu farms, and lots of steakhouses or Japanese restaurants sell wagyu products if you don’t trust yourself with the preparation!
Bluefin Tuna - $200 per pound
A famously expensive, and controversial catch. Bluefin tuna has seen an increase in price since we started fishing them in the 1950s, due to the huge demand for them and the unfortunate limited supply. While the majority of Bluefin is caught in the Mediterranean, the most expensive are found in Japan. In 2019, at the first ever auction for bluefins, someone bought a perfect, 600lb tuna for three million dollars. A fish the size of a grizzly bear and the price of a private island. Yes, this is an eye watering price, but a bluefin is more commonly sold for $200 per pound. Still not exactly affordable for the average person, and still very expensive, but the more endangered the fish becomes, the more the price will increase.
Coffin Bay King Oysters - up to $100 each
The size of these oysters has to be seen to be believed. Not the only item on the list to be fished from the Australian coast, the Coffin Bay King Oysters are as pricey as they are sought after. They are described as “the oyster steak”, and unfortunately for us, they are generally kept within the Australian borders. Definitely a bucket list item for any seafood lover, if you’re willing to travel!
Foie Gras - $40-80 per pound
Probably the most controversial item on this list is Foie Gras. Made from the over-fattened liver of the duck or goose, this pate-like product is renowned for its controversy. It cannot legally be produced in the UK due to our welfare laws (we can’t overfeed or force-feed animals, which can happen to make foie gras), but we do import some! It can be bought online through websites that specialise in fine foods, and rare and expensive ingredients. Not looking to prepare it yourself? You will be able to find it in some French and Mediterranean restaurants as a traditional meal. It can also be used in sushi, so head to your closest Japanese restaurant if that’s more your style!
Wanting to try some famously expensive meats, but are fearful of the high price tag mixed with limited culinary abilities? Here are some notable mentions, if you’d prefer to leave it to the professionals…
Salt Bae’s Gold Wagyu - £700
Who can we turn to but everyone’s favourite, slightly eccentric, meme of a chef, Salt Bae? Although his London restaurant has been continuously delayed since 2018, his Miami and Dubai restaurants have given him a level of fame that most chefs could never dream of, just for the way he sprinkles salt on his steaks. His most famous dish? Gold wagyu steak. Yes, an already decadent wagyu steak, covered in 24-karat gold leaf. The price not only includes the flashiest meal you’ll ever eat, but also an entire tableside production, where your steak is cooked and cut in front of you, before Salt Bae himself seasons your sparkling steak, and feeds you a piece off the end of his knife.
Is it worth the money for this production? Maybe! But if all that attention is not for you, one of the next notable mentions could be more up your street.
The 777 Burger - $777
A choice of 4 buns, lobster, Kobe beef, caramelised onions, prosciutto, triple cream brie, 100 year old balsamic, and a bottle of Dom Perignon Rose Champagne. Of course, there is gold leaf involved in this one, too. While the price is definitely affected by the bottle of champagne it’s served with, it cannot be argued how decadent this burger is. Worth the price? Maybe! If you find yourself in Las Vegas and win $800 on the roulette wheel, I’d make a trip to Le Burger Brasserie!
Finally, the porterhouse steak at Wally’s Las Vegas - $20,000
This one has me truly stumped. It is not coated in precious metals or adorned with salt from a celebrity’s elbow. It is simply a huge plate of steak! 20k can buy you a brand new Mini Cooper, a trip around the world, or a 60oz porterhouse steak with shaved black truffle. The eye-watering steak was also served with potato pomme Anne and grilled broccolini. Would you buy a steak for this price if you had the money?
Would you try anything from this list? What would you like to try most?
From this list, we can see that selective breeding, government intervention, and unnatural, regimented care routines make for very expensive meat and fish products. While these products are famous or popular amongst the elite, the question must be asked - is this right? The fact that some of these products are illegal to produce or consume in many places due to the danger or morality of the product should show that these things probably should be thought of as more than “the world’s most expensive”. Perhaps “most controversial” or “most misunderstood” products? When free-range, or pasture for life products match supermarket prices, but products like wagyu which create an extremely unnatural lifestyle for the cattle involved are hundreds of times more expensive, we should probably stop to think about which products are actually worth our money.