For years I have seen this seasonal specialty at the fish counter in my grocery store. I have heard about it in restaurants and food magazines, and I am generally pretty adventurous. I love soft shell crabs, I eat and love scrapple, In fact I think the only line I have ever drawn is at Rocky Mountain Oysters out of general support for my gender.
So when I saw the food that Barron’s Food Lover’s Companion describes as “…a much sought-after springtime delicacy…roe encased in two delicately transparent oval-shaped membranes…[with] a rich, slightly sweet nutty flavor” I decided it was finally time to try it.
Sometimes going into a situation with no expectations is a good thing but in this case I think if someone had told me, “This is going to taste like some sort of rich fatty fish liver” I at least could have said, “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff! You really nailed it!”
The thing is not that it tasted so bad–I did in fact finish mine–but that it was such a colossal disappointment! I went back to the literature (by which I mean Google) thinking I had missed some crucial step that said, “If you don’t do this step the dish will taste like gross fish liver.” There was no missing step. I made the exact same recipe as countless YouTube videos, online recipes, and some of my cookbooks.
It’s actually very simple to make this dreadful dish. Dredge the Shad Roe in seasoned flour, fry it in butter and rendered bacon fat, season a bit further and serve on some sort of fried potatoes.
I chose fondant potatoes and good thing because they were the unlikely star of the show! The fondant potatoes are quite simple and delicious. Peel and halve a potato lengthwise and brown the large flat surface. Then flip it and pour in chicken broth about a third up and put the whole thing in the oven until the potato is tender.
I added some leftover asparagus (which accounts for the shriveled look in the picture and contributed to the overall failure of that night’s dinner!)
Perhaps some day I will acquire a taste for this “springtime delicacy” but I would not put the flavor up there with truffles, foie gras, and marrow. This will probably set me apart from true gourmands, but that will have to be the price I pay, this was not a dish I would repeat.