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Mar 21, 2008 07:31 PM

It's shad roe time baby!

Yep, we're right in the middle of the season I reckon, what with fresh sets coming straight from the Rappahannock, that newly de-dammed refuge of The Founding Fish. That is John McPhee's monicker, not mine. But one should read his book if interested in this boney relative of the herring, or in conservation in general. I'm sure many Hounds have an opinion of this delicacy, whether on the flesh or the eggs, but do buy a fresh set or two and cook it at home. I like one of McPhee's recipes the best, simply cooking the roe on a bed of bacon over the lowest possible flame in a covered, cast iron skillet for 35 minutes. Don't lift the lid for crying out loud! Cut a few wedges out of a lemon, squeeze some over the whole thing on a plate, turn off the NCAA noise, and drift back into George Washington's mindframe. Makes the world better again.


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  1. I'm pretty certain that I won't be cooking my own. So if you could direct me to a restaurant that serves it as it is meant to taste, I will give it a second chance.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Denise

      Well, I've always made it myself and never had it in a restaurant. Was your first experience bad? Where did you have it? The Peppermill in Lutherville always advertises it around this time. From what I read, this restaurant never seems to offend, and it tends to a more mature customer base - a place one takes one's grandmother to on her special day. Anyway, the trick to any delicate seafood is not to overcook nor overspice. If you go, good luck, and let me know your experience. Thanks.

      1. re: Denise

        Kinkead's does it this time of year. I had it just a week ago. Trust them.

        It is, there as at many places, an appetizer; most often I think it is considered too rich to do an entree. And if they sell raw sets for $13, then I'd always let Kinkead's cook it. Sit at the bar if you don't want to mortgage the entire estate for dinner -- they have one of the best dinning bars in the city, imnaho.

        1. re: beets4dinner

          Where is Kinkead's? I'm intrigued. A roe set seems a dinner to me.

          1. re: Montebello

            2000 Penn. Ave. NW --- in a set of rowhouse facades that have offices and a kind of mall behind them.

            This is always rated as one of DC best places, especially for seafood, but all around they just are great.

            And thanks for the McPhee recipe: he is my most favourite writer. Which book? I thought I'd had all of them, usually two copies.

            1. re: beets4dinner

              "The Founding Fish", John McPhee, 2002. McPhee's such a prolific writer, I can't keep up. Ever read "Oranges"? Maybe a bit outdated, but it opened a new horizon way back when I first read it.

      2. Where did you buy your shad roe?

        And could you share your recipe (or provide a pointer)?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Hal Laurent

          Wegman's and Conrad's both have it for $13 a set.

          1. re: Hal Laurent

            John McPhee's recipe from "The Founding Fish", who's recipe I like, annotated to shorten it: "Cover the bottom of the cast-iron skillet with bacon, thick-sliced if you want to go sooner. Snip the bacon the fit. One contiguous layer will do. Salt and pepper the roe sacs. Place them, either side, on the bacon bed. Cover the pan. Put the pan on the burner at medium heat. Don't leave the room, do not answer the telephone. Exile wives, children, etc. for a couple of minutes while you listen. After the bacon begins to sizzles, turn down the heat to the lowest possible level you are able to achieve without turning the burner off. What you want to hear is a low, regular, constant sizzle - not the sound of bacon rapidly crisping. Slip a wire spacer under the pan if necessary. Set the timer for 35 minutes. Go back every 5 minutes to listen - to be sure the the sizzling is neither too active nor too extinct. At the end of 35 minutes, gingerly feel around with a small spatula and free up any bacon that is sticking to the pan. Cover the the skillet with an upside- down serving plate, flip it onto the plate. If any bacon is undercooked, quickly fry it and return it to cover the roe. Chop off the ends of a lemon, render it hexapartite, and sit down. Squeeze the wedges as you see fit. Enjoy!! .

            1. re: Hal Laurent

              There are lots of places in Baltimore selling shad and shad roe sets these days. But I strongly recommend the seafood counter at Nick's in the Cross Street Market. Ask, and they will pull a whole shad out of ice and cut out the fresh roe right then and there. I'm always a little unsure how long the roe sets sitting on ice have been sitting there.