CREAMED SHAD ROE PREPARATIONMUCH PRIZED BY THE EARLY INDIANS AND PILGRIMS For its sweet (if terribly bony) flesh and the delectable roe, the large American shad that migrated each spring from the Atlantic to spawn in eastern fresh-water rivers was so popular by the nineteenth century that it was fished almost to extinction (and, later, almost driven out of certain waters by industrial pollution).
Today, the shad have rebounded, and while, in my experience, it’s rare to find the annoyingly bony fish itself except in the best seafood markets of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, Southerners relish the roe and have come up with numerous creative ways to prepare it: roasted with wild sorrel, stuffed into other fish, poached with various
vegetables, and creamed, as in this rather elegant recipe retrieved from an old Annapolis, Maryland, church cookbook. (Marylanders, by the way, have also devised a way to bake or steam shad five or six hours, till the bones literally disintegrate.)
4 slices bacon
2 pairs shad roe (about 1 pound)
2 cups water
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons butter
3 scallions (part of green tops included), minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Tabasco sauce to taste, 4 pieces toast 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish In a large,
heavy skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat till crisp, drain on paper towels, crumble, and reserve. Drain the grease from the skillet and let the skillet cool.
Arrange the shad roe in the skillet and add the water, milk, lemon juice, and bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer the roe to a plate and reserve the liquid in the pan, removing the bay leaf.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, add the scallions, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Sprinkle on the flour and whisk till well blended, about 1 minute longer. Increase the heat to moderate, add the reserved cooking liquid, and whisk rapidly till thickened and smooth. Add the cream, sherry, salt and pepper, and Tabasco and stir till well blended. Cut the roe into bite-size pieces, add to the sauce, and stir till well heated. To serve, place a piece of toast on individual plates, spoon equal amounts of creamed roe on the toast, and garnish the tops with the bacon and parsley.