Nothing gets certain nostalgic foodies in a lather like the arrival of shad. Just mention this bony, overgrown herring, and any shad fanatic within 100 yards will begin dancing about, warbling Cole Porter, and quoting Joseph Mitchell or John McPhee. And who can blame them? Shad’s scientific name doesn’t mean “most savory” for nothing. An even greater delicacy to get worked up about is shad roe, which chef and shad aficionado Aaron Bashy of Brooklyn’s Minnow demystifies for novices in the recipe below. --Rob Patronite
2 pair shad roe, membranes intact, available at Wild Edibles
4 cups water
Pinch of dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Squeeze of lemon
Salt to taste
1⁄2 pound pancetta or bacon, thinly sliced
Gently rinse the roe. Using scissors, separate the 2 halves of each pair. Poach the roe sacs in 4 cups of simmering water seasoned with the basil, garlic, lemon, and salt for 1 minute.
(1) Using a slotted spoon, remove the roe sacs and place in a bowl ﬁlled with the broth, and cool in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
(2) Remove and cut sacs into thirds.
(3) Wrap each with pancetta, and secure with a bamboo skewer. Place skewers in a preheated nonstick pan, and cook over medium heat until brown on all sides. Remove from pan, saving the pan drippings to combine with your favorite vinaigrette (blood-orange-and-shallot is nice). Serve over fresh spinach and mâche drizzled with the vinaigrette.