Shad Roe

What is shad roe? I didn’t know anything about it until I read Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s post last week. The eggs of female shad are prized and considered a delicacy. This is a very seasonal food, and the fishing season is short. The female has two lobes of roe, which you do not want to puncture while cleaning or cooking. It tastes a bit like liver, and the texture reminds me of quinoa. It has a very slight briny taste.

Next time I went grocery shopping I saw the shad roe lobes in the fish case: gleaming bright red taunting me to get them. I asked the fishmonger whether they were worth trying and he said: absolutely! He then instructed me to poach them in melted butter until they are slightly firm in the center, making sure there is enough butter to cover both lobes. After poaching, you then pan fry them in the butter until brown and squeeze lemon juice over them. I took a slightly different route, and made the lemon-caper sauce that Mrs. Wheelbarrow shared on her blog.

The verdict? I would definitely have it again. I actually like the taste, and the texture does not bother me. Anything covered in this lemon-caper sauce would taste amazing. I think it would go well with some baby arugula to contrast the richness of the sauce. Shad roe is worth trying if you come across it.

Shad Roe in Lemon-Caper Butter Sauce
(adapted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow)

2 lobes of shad roe
1 stick of unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons capers

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
2. Rinse the shad roe under cold water and dry well with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the connective tissue by pulling it very carefully.
3. Melt the butter in a very small skillet, big enough to just fit both lobes. Add the lobes and place the skillet in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, carefully flipping the lobes half way through cooking. They are done when the center is firm.
4. Remove skillet from the oven and pour out half of the butter, and set aside. Over medium high heat, brown the shad roe on both sides, remove them from the skillet. Add the capers and lemon juice to the now brown butter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Pour the lemon-caper butter sauce over the shad roe and serve.

I fried some slices of bread in a skillet with the remaining butter, then sliced one of the lobes on the diagonal and served it over the fried bread. Then I spooned over some of the lemon-caper butter sauce.

Update 3/31/14: Since I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this post, I’m adding a little update. The most frequent question is what does shad roe look like raw? Here’s a photo. You can see the shad roe sacks in the middle, and the shad fillets on the right.

This is what shad roe looks like

This is what shad roe looks like

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5 thoughts on “Shad Roe

  1. please email me a reply! I’m baffled! So, I’m watching “Chopped” this Saturday afternoon and they must cook Shad roe. One of the most disgusting -looking objects I have laid eyes on to date. yucky. Anyway, I looked it up and found YOU! Yay! Here’s my question, where are the eggs??? Roe are eggs…so I am assuming that the large kidney shaped bags are full of eggs, no? I would like to see the raw shad sac opened up! do eggs come out? How come when you cut it after it is cooked, it is not eggs that you see, but solid “meat?” thanks, B.Feller

  2. I would have gone in reverse for this recipe, as easier and less dangerous to FIRST brown the shad first and THEN pop the pan into the pre-heated oven to finish rest of the cooking.

  3. I went to the safeway store on sterling blvd in sterling, virginia……the fish manager, a morroccan lady came running and said “where are you, I had ordered shad but you never came in, my boss tells me to throw it out but I am hanging on to it for you, take it off my hand and I will give you a good deal”! Upshot : one unopened box of shad fillets and 3 small buckets of shad roe (about 60 sets) for $22.00 ! Man, it was like striking the motherlode !

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