Shad was known as elft, the eleven fish, to the early Dutch settlers. It was on the 11th day of March each year that the first shad were caught and cooked on a plank, a method the settlers learned from the Indians. Shad were so abundant in colonial days that it became quite fashionable among some of the well-to-do. Many of them ate shad on the sly, fearing others would think them unable to afford more expensive food.
Shad is particularly bony fish. An Indian legend has it that the shad was a discontented porcupine that asked the gods to be changed, following which it was turned inside out.
Shad has a rich, sweet, very distinctive flavor, a high fat content, and a perfect texture for broiling, baking, pan-frying, or poaching. A further harbinger of the advent of spring is yet another special treat given to us by the shad - the delicious and delicate roe.
Shad roe comes in skeins or sets, joined by a thin membrane. One important rule when you cook the roe, always handle the roe with great care and don't separate the halves until after you've cooked them. Also, plunging them into iced water before you cook them will firm them up a bit, then always cook them gently only until they are opaque or slightly firm, 8 to 10 minutes at most.
Note: Many people think shad roe should be parboiled or broiled, but such is not the case. This makes to hard and dry, whereas shad roe should be tender and juicy.
- 1 pair of shad roe
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 tsp blackened seasoning
- salt and lemon juice
Melt the butter in a skillet but do not let it get hot and smoking. Dip the roe lightly in blackened seasoning and place in the pan. Let it simmer in butter, turning once during the cooking process. Season with salt and lemon juice, and serve with fresh salad.
Photography was done by my husband, because I was busy making him dinner-))