Every spring when the shad run on the East Coast, I start to salivate.
This small bony fish needs to be dealt with very particularly, but the rewards are well worth it. Filets of the fish are so bony that many shad lovers simply eat the plump sets of roe. I don’t like to waste fish just for its roe, so I treat them like I do a lot of bony river fish. I score them every quarter inch with an electric knife and fry them. Some people poach the egg sacs to prevent the roe sets from popping and exploding all over the place, I like to crisp them slowly. Patience is a key element to cooking shad roe… and yes, I do them the traditional way with bacon.
Shad Roe with Bacon & Capers
- Four 4- to 5-ounce lobes shad roe (2 sets), trimmed (see Note)
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
In a small baking dish, cover the shad roe lobes with the buttermilk and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then break into large pieces. In the skillet, heat the vegetable oil in the bacon fat. Spread the flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt. Remove the roe lobes from the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip back into the dish. Dredge the lobes in the flour and add to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes total; transfer to plates. Keep warm.
Add the capers and shallot to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in the sherry vinegar and parsley and season lightly with salt. Spoon the pan sauce over the shad roe, top with the bacon and serve right away.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.