Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shad roe, the harbinger of spring

In Charlottesville, Whole Foods does a nice job with its fish counter, and there's always at least two varieties of fish that meet my criteria: beautifully fresh and good value. (The only reason I don't shop there regularly is that I believe in supporting local businesses, and Charlottesville has an excellent fishmonger on West Main.) 

Yesterday was no exception. The little trouts had bright, shiny eyes, the Scottish salmon was rich and firm, but what were those strange things that looked like elongated, rosy sweetbreads doing there? 

Why, that was the legendary shad roe, which is only available fresh in the spring as the fish migrate up river from the Chesapeake Bay to spawn. It comes in two lobes, which is just enough for a meal for two.

Watching your cholesterol? Skip this dish and go back to the fish counter for a more healthful option.

Lori K's Shad Roe Brunch

1 twin-lobe shad roe
6 ounces butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon capers
Cooked rice or grits
2 tablespoons bacon crumbles
Fresh crusty bread

Poach the roe in gently simmering water for 5 minutes. Be sure the liquid does not boil; the membrane around the roe is sensitive to high heat. Drain and snip between the two lobes to separate. Melt butter in a small skillet and season with salt (if using unsalted butter) and pepper. Add the two pieces of roe. Saute for 3 minutes on each side, or until firm. Remove roe and keep warm. Add the lime juice and capers to the butter in the skillet and cook until well blended. 
To serve, make a bed of arugula around each small plate. Spoon rice or grits into the middle and top with the shad roe. Drizzle the lime-butter-caper sauce over the top and sprinkle the bacon over. Add a couple of slices of bread to the side; they will be useful to sop up the remaining sauce.

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