Monday, April 26, 2010

Shad Roe with Lemon Butter (Page 299)

RECIPE #1149

  • Date: Thursday, April 22, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Kitchen: Emilee and Brian's Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Emilee, Brian, Sam, and Chris
  • Recipe Rating: C

Three springs ago, I was wandering through Whole Foods in Boston, and I spotted shad roe in the seafood case. I thought to myself, "There's a shad roe recipe in The Book. I should come back here and get that at some point." And I walked away. Little did I know back then that shad roe is one of the few truly seasonal foods we have left. The shad roe season is short -- only a few weeks in any given location. And shad roe does not freeze well. So outside of a few precious weeks in spring, no amount of time or money will buy you some shad roe. This is (hopefully!) my last spring of this project, so when shad roe season came it was crucial that I get my hands on some. Shad roe is more prevalent on the East Coast than here in California, so while I was frequenting many fine seafood establishments out here, I never did see it. I almost let the season pass me by, but I managed to get my act together last week, find some shad roe on the East Coast, and have it sent to me overnight. On Thursday, the box arrived via FedEx. Inside, the shad roe was packed with cold packs and seaweed:

When the roe arrived it was nice and cold, and mostly intact. Shad roe has a different look to it than most other fish roe we eat. It has several large sacs, each with thousands of very tiny eggs inside. From the inside the eggs look a bit like couscous. From the outside it looks like this:

After the long struggle to find the shad roe, the recipe was quite simple. I dredged the shad roe in flour, and cooked it in a skillet, in butter. Then I made a pan sauce by adding lemon juice and more butter to the pan once the roe had been removed. I then stirred in parsley and seasoned with salt and pepper. I served the shad roe with the lemon butter sauce.

Emilee looked at the result and noted, "That doesn't look like food." Indeed it wasn't pretty. We all wanted to like the shad roe -- and no one wanted to like it more than I did after all the effort to acquire it. But in truth, no one particularly cared for it. Emilee and Chris found the texture very disconcerting. Brian and I found the texture of eating thousands of tiny eggs to be nice enough, but we were both a little put off by the flavor. It wasn't fishy exactly, but it tasted very strongly of the sea. Brian commented that we would be exhaling the harbor all evening after eating it. That said, I'm not sure that there was anything wrong with the preparation. I definitely had the sense that the preparation served the shad roe pretty well, but we just hadn't acquired a taste for shad roe. It's hard to know, as this was my first shad roe experience. I would be very interested to hear an opinion on this recipe from someone who frequently eats shad roe.

So, for us it wasn't the awesome eating experience I had hoped that it might be. But I have to admit, I was delighted nonetheless at the end of the meal. This shad roe recipe has been hanging over my head for years now. To me it has been symbolic of all the recipes with hard-to-find ingredients in The Book. But I found the shad roe, I cooked it, and we all tried it! I conquered the recipe, which gives me the confidence to believe that I will conquer them all. Only 144 recipes to go!

This recipe isn't online.


GilaB said...

Congratulations! What other hard-to-find ingredients do you have left?

Katie said...

This looks seriously icky.

Teena said...

Yeah, it tasted a lot like it looks :)

There are quite a few ingredients I have left to find that aren't available at a typical grocery store: live crawfish, arepa flour, tasso, Instacure No. 1, etc... I think I will be able to order most of the on the internet though. At least, that's my hope!

meluhawasi said...

bring water with a little vinegar to the boil and dunk the roe in not more than 1 and half minute.This will kill its strong odor. Roe will turn an ugly purple at that point, take it out and brown it in butter or follow your recipe as you like.
aint anything in the world like shad roe !