The arrival of shad roe is our reminder that tulips and longer days are right around the corner. It is a delicacy that is found on the east coast just as soon as the weather starts to turn for the better. The season can be anywhere from February to May, depending upon the location along the coastline.
Shad is an American saltwater fish, a member of the herring family. It spawns in coastal streams at the beginning of spring. A typical full-grown shad weighs in around 3 to 5 pounds. Its flesh is oily, and it contains a lot of bones. For this reason, Native Americans often refer to shad as inside-out porcupines. Not an appetizing description! So why is it considered such a delicacy? The answer is simple, the roe.
Shad roe is the egg sac of the female shad fish. Each female produces a lobe-shaped pair of egg sacs. The egg sacs are bright red in color, and more closely resemble liver, or a pair of lungs, than fish. Once the roe is cooked, the color turns to a grayish-brown.
Although shad roe is fish eggs, the taste does not at all replicate caviar. It is a very delicate flavor. We often say that shad roe is something of a sponge, taking on the flavors with which it’s cooked. Often times, it is poached with butter, or cooked with bacon to envelope the roe in a smoky, rich flavor. Tomorrow, we will be showing you our take on how to cook shad roe, which we hope helps convince you to purchase the delicacy and make a delicious dish out of it, before the season is behind us. Shad roe season is a great opportunity to try something new. You’ll love it!