Some look for cherry blossoms and robins as the first signs of spring. Others impatiently check local seafood shops for the arrival of a rare, silvery fish called shad. The tender, tasty cousin of the herring spawns in rivers off the Atlantic and Pacific; peak shad-fishing season is between March and June. Because it's available for a relatively short period of time--and because its stocks have become depleted along the East Coast--the shad is greeted with festivals and added to the menus of upscale restaurants. In New York City, Rick Moonen, chef and owner of RM, serves seared shad with its roe atop a medley of sauteed peas and caramelized onions. But you don't have to be fancy when cooking it at home. "Shad has a robust, buttery flavor, so it doesn't need much," says Joe Gurrera, owner of New York seafood shop Citarella. Drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and slide it in the broiler for eight minutes. And be sure to buy it boned. Can't find filleted shad near you? Citarella (www.citarella.com) ships it cross-country for $7.99 per pound.
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