While shad roe gets all the glory this time of year—not to mention the distinction of being the only fresh fish eggs to ever grace the lyrics of a Cole Porter song—there is another option. Fresh flounder roe, at your local Greenmarket now, is comparatively mild in flavor, with finer, more densely packed, practically microscopic eggs. And at about $4 a pound, it’s a lot less expensive than the shad variety. Cole Porter may not have found it lyric-worthy, but it’s doubtful he ever tried the following preparation from Esca’s Dave Pasternak.
Dave Pasternak’s Flounder Roe With Blood-Orange and Meyer-Lemon Salad
3 Meyer lemons (1 for juice)
2 blood oranges (1 for juice)
3 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
6 oz. extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper to taste
4 pieces flounder roe (at Greenmarket’s Blue Moon Fish stand)
1/2 cup Wondra (or all-purpose) flour
1/2 cup milk
Knob of butter
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, picked and washed
1/4 cup mint leaves, washed and torn
For the salad: Using a mandoline, slice 2 of the lemons and 1 orange as thinly as possible. Layer the lemon and orange slices into separate bowls. Juice the remaining lemon into a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and half the olive oil, and season with pepper. Whisk and pour marinade over lemon slices. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and reserve at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours. Repeat the procedure for the oranges using the remaining sugar, salt, and oil.
For the flounder roe: Season both sides of each roe sac with salt and pepper, and (1) gently dredge in flour, then milk, then flour again. Gently shake off excess flour without damaging the membranes. In a sauté pan, heat butter over low to medium heat. Cook the roe sacs 1 or 2 at a time, depending on size, until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. (2) Gently transfer roe to a cutting board, and (3) slice each piece on the bias and arrange on 4 plates. To serve: In a mixing bowl, combine the citrus and a small amount of each marinade with the parsley and mint. Place a small amount of the citrus salad next to each roe and serve.