Some look for the lengthening of days, while others turn to a calendar to herald the change of seasons. But North Carolina fishermen know that spring is coming when the shad start running.
The American shad, also known as white shad in North Carolina, are coveted for their firm flesh and tasty roe (fish eggs).
And, if you are a fan of sardines or herring, you will appreciate the mild taste of their Southern relative. Shad are also high in omega-3 fatty acids which is a powerful anti-inflammatory helping the body heal a variety of illnesses.
The fatty acids also deliver a rich flavor to the Shad.
They are a bit bony which makes some people avoid this fish, but there is no need. The easiest – and safest – way to enjoy this fish is to flake out the meat after poaching or smoking. Their full flavor lends itself well to being paired with garlic, onion, and tomato sauce.
Give them a try because these fish are worth the trouble.
In addition to enjoying the great taste of the Shad, many people love the delicate flavor of Shad Roe.
Unlike caviar (the pickled roe of sturgeon or other large fish) the eggs of the American Shad have a lighter, more delicate, flavor.
In “A Celebration of the Seasons: A Cook’s Almanac” (Poseidon Press, 1988), Steven Raichlen describes the taste as a combination of “the richness of sweetbreads, the subtle liver flavor of foie gras, and the sensuous crunch of the finest caviar.”
Locals remember eating this meaty treat for breakfast and have never found anything else that can compare with the taste of fresh Shad Roe with eggs.
One of our customers says his mother fixed him shad roe with scrambled eggs when he was a child and he grew to love it.
“I’ve told people about it,” he explains. “And, unless they are willing to try new things or grew up around here, most of them turn up their noses. But that is a shame, because it is truly delicious.”
He stops and shrugs. “But maybe that’s okay because there’s more for me,” he says with a laugh.
SHAD ROE WITH BACON RECIPE
What You’ll Need
4 to 6 lobes of shad roe
1 tablespoon salt
6 to 10 pieces of smoky, thick-cut bacon
Flour for dusting
1 lemon, quartered
Fresh herbs such as chervil, fennel, or parsley to garnish
How to Make It
1. Mix the salt and 2 cups cold water until it’s dissolved. Submerge the roe lobes in the salt water and let soak in the fridge overnight.
2. In a pan, slowly cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy, then set aside to drain.
3. While the bacon is cooking, flour the roe lobes and
4. When the bacon is cooked, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the shad roe in the same pan for one minute.
Turn the heat back down to medium, cooking for another two to three minutes, until golden. Turn and cook the other side for two to three minutes. Note: Do not overcook, as shad roe become chalky and unpleasant tasting if cooked for too long.
5. To serve, arrange bacon on a plate, place the fresh herbs on the bacon, and then place the shad roe on top. Serve with a lemon wedge. (Recipe from The Spruce.com)