Friday, March 7, 2008

The Last of Winter, The First of Spring

In the next day or so Cultured Cabbage should be up on Recipe of the week. I really liked this last gasp of the winter vegetables.

Almost Spring has brought me the pleasure of shad and shad roe. These are true delicacies that are just coming back from the near extinction of polluted water. Sadly, many of the Hudson's shad fishermen have given up the ghost waiting for the re-teeming of the waters, They are important not only as catchers but also as filleters. Filleting shad is a job for experts. I tried it once and failed. Don't ignore the fish and just go for the fancier roe.

To cook the fish, bring to room temperature. Heat the broiler with the rack in the highest position. According to the eaters, either cut two tablespoons of butter for each half-pound fillet into small dabs and put between the layers of shad, underneath it and on top. Broil for about three minutes or utnil the fish is just opaque all the way through (peek)

Cut the two halves of each roe apart with a scissors. About three minutes before the shad goes under the broiler, put a little butter to melt or a little olive oil to heat in a pan just large enough to hold the roe halves in a single layer not touching. Cover. When the fish goes under the broiler, turn the roe halves over and recover. Remove when the shad is done and serve together. I usually allow one fillet and one piece of roe per serving.

These can be served with lemon halves or even better with sorrel puree. Sorrel is also a harbinger of Spring. I, however, had some frozen puree left from last Fall's late crop. Allow about a half cup of puree for each two people.

To make sorrel puree, wash the leaves well, remove the stems, dry thoroughly. Cut across into thin strips and saute over medium low heat in butter or olive oil until completely wilted.

The French of the Southwest classically serve their shad from the Adour this way. They claim that the acidity of the the sorrel melts the shad bones. I have tried it and it doesn't work; but the flavors are wonderful together.

Happy Spring.

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