From Penelope's kitchen: Shad roe, harbinger of spring


The first Sunday in March I was on Ram Island and heard the welcome song of the red-winged blackbird.

Shortly after that in Silver Beach, robins called out from high in a bare tree and I knew that while the weather was still not cooperating, spring must not be far off.

And more recently, my heart leapt when I saw shad roe at Citarella. Spring is definitely here.

Each spring, shad, a bony fish, swims upstream to spawn. The fish itself is lovely, but the roe, with its sweet taste and custard-like texture, is a delicacy, along the lines of truffles and caviar. It’s no wonder Cole Porter wrote about it in his romantic tune, “Let’s Do It”!

Shad Roe with Seafood Rice
Serves 2

4 lobes shad roe (approximately 3/4 pound)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice bacon
Flour to coat
1 egg
Salt/pepper to season

2 cups rice
4 cups water
1 bag fenugreek tea

1 bottle clam juice
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 littleneck clams

2 handfuls baby spinach
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Warm sauté pan, then add olive oil. Chop bacon into small bits and add to the pan. Remove when browned and set aside on paper towel to drain.

Boil water, then add teabag and steep for 10 minutes or until tea is strong. Put tea in pot and add rice. Bring to a boil for one minute, then turn off heat and cover.

Scrub and clean clams, then put them in a pot with water on medium-high heat and cook until clam shells have opened. Remove clams from shells; strain remaining water through paper towel in colander and set aside.

To warm sauté pan, add butter/margarine. When melted, add rice and stir, combining well. Over medium heat, add clam juice until rice is just covered and stir, bringing to a boil. When clam juice has been absorbed, continue to add more juice and stir until rice has creamy consistency, then turn heat down to low.

Rinse shad roe lobes in cold water and pat dry.  Dust with flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper, shaking off excess, then dredge in egg wash and dust in flour again.

In pan used for bacon, add olive oil to medium-high heated pan and carefully add lobes, cooking one minute on each side until light brown.

To rice mixture, add baby spinach and heat until wilted, then turn off heat. Add minced parsley, clams and bacon bits.

Place rice on a plate, with shad roe, and drizzle lemon juice over the roe.