Much like ramps, shad roe is a springtime delicacy found on the East Coast that marks the beginning of the season. Shad roe is only available at fish markets and some specialty grocery stores for a short period each year, usually around March (but the shad roe season can be anywhere from February to May, depending on the location along the coast). Shad is hard to find on the East Coast, but is plentiful on the West Coast in June.
Shad roe is the egg sac of the female American shad fish, a member of the herring family. Each female shad produces a pair of lobe-shaped egg sacs. Although the fish itself is quite bony, shad roe is full of rich flavor similar to sweetbreads. Cook shad roe at low temperatures to avoid bursting the eggs. Here are a few ways to cook it on your own:
Fried in bacon fat. A classic method of cooking shad roe. Coat the roe with a light dusting of flour. Cook bacon until enough fat renders to coat the bottom of the pan, then lower the heat, add the roe, and gently cook until golden brown on the outside. Let the bacon and shad roe rest on paper towels before serving with lemon and garnished with parsley.
Mix it into scrambled eggs or an omelet. Add the roe to eggs and season with a little bit of salt and pepper, then cook as desired
With tomato-anchovy sauce. Anchovies lend salty flavor to a quick-cooking tomato sauce.
Sautéed in butter. Similar to the bacon fat method, simply sauté shad roe in butter at a low temperature until golden brown.
Julie Ruggirello is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @TDMRecipeEditor.