Traditional recipes

What Is Shad Roe and How Do You Cook It?

What Is Shad Roe and How Do You Cook It?

Shad roe is a seasonal delight; try cooking it at home

Much like ramps, shad roe is a springtime delicacy that marks the beginning of the season. Shad roe is only available at fish markets and some specialty grocery stores for a short period each year, usually around March (but the shad roe season can be anywhere from February to May, depending on the location along the coast). Later in the season, shad is hard to find on the East Coast, but it is plentiful on the West Coast in June.

Shad roe is the egg sac of the female American shad fish, a member of the herring family. Each female shad produces a pair of lobe-shaped egg sacs. Although the fish itself is quite bony, shad roe is full of rich flavor similar to sweetbreads. But how do you cook shad roe? Most importantly, you should cook the roe at low temperatures to avoid bursting the eggs.

Here are a few ways you can cook shad roe in your own kitchen:

Fried in bacon fat. A classic method of cooking shad roe. Coat the roe with a light dusting of flour. Cook bacon until enough fat renders to coat the bottom of the pan, then lower the heat, add the roe, and gently cook until golden brown on the outside. Let the bacon and shad roe rest on paper towels before serving with lemon and garnished with parsley.

Mix it into scrambled eggs or an omelet. Add the roe to eggs and season with a little bit oif salt and pepper, then cook as desired.

With tomato-anchovy sauce. Anchovies lend salty flavor to a quick-cooking tomato sauce.

Sautéed in butter. Similar to the bacon fat method, simply sauté shad roe in butter at a low temperature until golden brown.

So there you have it, shad roe is actually a relatively easy ingredient to cook with — just like these 24 foolproof seafood recipes anyone can cook.

Garlic pan fried shad roe recipe

This shad roe recipe is such a delicacy! Deliciously rich buttery flavor and delicate texture creates an unforgettable dish that can accompany your dinner plate or can be served by itself.

Shad roe is a very seasonal product and if you want to try it, wait for spring. That’s when it comes available and is so fresh.

Once the fish is cool, pick the meat from the bones. This is best done by picking towards the back of the fillet. The bones tend to face toward the fish's tail, so if you pick with the grain, you can lift out big chunks of boneless meat.

A word about the centerline. The centerline of a bony fish is often loaded with lots of teeny bones, sticking right into the fishiest-tasting part of the fillet. My advice is to toss this section.

Shad Roe

Shad is a fish that make their spring migration from the Gulf to the Chesapeake every year to spawn in the brackish Bay. It’s a lovely rich fish and the “Roe” or egg sack is a delicacy that marks springtime and the Lenten season in Maryland. If you like Salmon you will enjoy Shad and Shad Roe. The fish has a high Omega 3 content. It can be purchased whole (with or without Roe), split (Roe removed), fileted, or boned. The fish is quite boney so there are still bones left in the meat after fileting. If you want the fish boneless you purchase it “boned”. Below is our favorite way to prepare the Roe.

Place Roe in a sauté pan with just enough water to cover. Bring the water to simmer over medium heat and poach the Roe until gray and firm, about 5 min. (do not boil). Poaching seals the membrane and reduces the tiny eggs from popping during the browning process. Carefully pour off all the water and add 1 tbsp. butter, olive oil, garlic, and onions. Gently brown over med/low heat until a light golden crust forms on the Roe. Salt and pepper to taste. When Roe is browned and firm and gray throughout (about 3-5 min.) transfer to a plate. Deglaze pan with the wine. Wisk in remaining butter and pour over Roe. Top with crumbled bacon and serve.

Pan-Roasted Shad Roe with Scrambled Eggs & Peppadew Peppers

For the shad roe:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Rinse the sets of roe with cold running water to remove any excess blood. Using a sharp knife, carefully separate the two lobes, being careful not to puncture the membrane.
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Dust the shad roe with the seasoned flour and add them to the skillet. Place the skillet in the oven. Roast the shad roe for three to five minutes for medium or eight to nine minutes for well done. (If one of the lobes bursts in the oven, you’ll hear a popping noise. This is normal.) The shad roe should be crispy and brown and feel firm but springy. Remove from the oven and lightly cover with aluminum foil if more time is needed for cooking the scrambled eggs.

For the scrambled eggs:
While the shad roe is roasting, cook the eggs. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl. Add the salt. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Once the butter begins to foam, add the eggs. Cook the eggs, stirring with a rubber spatula and scraping the egg off the bottom of the pan, until soft, eight to 10 minutes. Fold in the peppadews and green onion. Divide among four warm plates and add one lobe of shad roe to each plate.

Shad Roe

Editor's Note: Shad roe is a springtime delicacy found mainly in certain regions of the East coast. The shad fish itself is too bony to eat, but the roe has a delicious, decadent taste and texture that is eagerly awaited each year by those who love it. This shad roe recipe calls for a simple but flavorful sauce that pairs well with the delicate fish eggs. Unique fish recipes like this are sure to stun at a dinner party. But be warned - once you've tried shad roe, you'll be counting down the days until the spring when it will be available again!
This amount of roe will serve two handsomely but, due to its richness, is adequate for four.

Occasion Cooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Course Main Course

Dietary Consideration Egg-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

Taste and Texture Buttery, Salty, Sweet


  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 pairs shad roe, washed in cold water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups half and half
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 1 cup sorrel leaves, washed and cut into ribbons


In a large deep saucepan, melt the butter and bring it to a mild simmer over moderate heat. Set the shad roe in the butter, cover, and poach gently for 10 to 12 minutes turning once. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Melt the butter in the saucepan set over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour. Return the sauce to the heat, gradually pour in the half-and-half and whisk vigorously. Cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens about 10 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and fold in the sorrel.

When the shad roe are cooked, slide a slotted spoon under them, and remove to a heated serving plate.Set aside and keep warm.

Continue cooking the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sorrel wilts. Spoon the sauce over the shad roe.

Serve with steamed or boiled new potatoes, sprinkled with a combination of finely chopped lemon zest and cilantro.

What is scallop roe ?

Scallop roe is actually the scallop’s reproductive organs.

Scallops are hermaphrodites – both male and female at the same time. This is why you will see two colors on the roe, one orange and one rather grey or off white.

In truth, only the orange part is the roe – the female part. The grey part is actually called milt, the male reproductive organ in scallops.

Despite being inaccurate, ‘roe’ is the common term for both organs. This is because they’re right next to each other, and look as if they’re the same, single organ.

Can you eat scallop roe ?

Yes, you can eat scallop roe. It’s actually a very delicate and flavorful part of the scallops.

Some claim scallops taste better with the roe on. This is because roe deteriorates much faster than the rest of the scallop.

So fresh roe means the whole scallop is fresh, which is going to be a very delicious scallop indeed.

As you know, scallops are quite expensive and this is largely due to the way they’re harvested.

And once harvested, they can be either left with the roe on, or the roe may be removed. We’ll touch on roeless scallops in a bit.

Until then, let’s settle one thing.

All roe is edible, be it from mussels or fish or grab. Sometimes the roe is removed and never makes it to your plate.

But it’s there and it’s delicious, and there’s definitely recipes you can use to take advantage of that great scallop roe !

Half-shell scallops, with intestines (black), membrane, scallop muscle(cream), and roe (orange) still on.

What does scallop roe look like ?

Scallop roe is very hard to miss, but it you’ve never had it on your plate you can’t imagine it.

The roe is very large, as large as the scallop itself and sometimes even larger. It grows bigger as mating season draws close.

In terms of texture they’re kind of like livers. Very soft, and neatly contained in a thin sac or membrane.

The orange side, much larger, is the female side. The lighter, off-white or grey side is the male part.

The roe goes around half the scallop, kind of like a half moon.

Flavor aside, some folks dislike the way it looks, while some don’t see a problem with it.

Still, if you’d like to remove the roe, know that most of the time scallops come with the roe cut off as soon as they’re harvested.

Shad and the Other Roes of Spring

SHAD roe is a delicacy that is a hallmark of spring, but shad is hardly the only fish whose eggs make a delightfully rich supper or snack this time of year.

It is easy enough to think of black caviar made of sturgeon eggs, red caviar made of salmon eggs, taramosalata, which is pureed cod roe, and botarga, the tuna or cod eggs that are often used in salads in Mediterranean countries.

But we tend to ignore fresh pike and striped bass roes, which can be obtained from fish stores from time to time by those savvy enough to call well in advance.

Striped bass has the most elegant roe. When cooked, it has a creamy texture and color much like a fine quenelle. Overfishing has diminished the size of the bass that are caught and consequently the size of the roe available the roe from one striped bass makes just a snack-size meal.

Pike roe is delicious and finer in texture than shad roe. Trout roe is not available in fish stores, but the fortunate angler can discover how wonderful it is. These other fish roes are also available intermittently through the year, unlike shad, whose season ends by mid-June.

From my point of view all roes, including shad, are routinely badly cooked. Shad roe is usually sauteed or broiled both methods toughen the egg sac and dry out the tender eggs.

For years, I have poached roe instead in butter, which is truly delicious but fattening and expensive (a dinner-size portion of roe can easily use up a pound of butter). I give the recipe here for those who are willing to ignore practical concerns for the sake of experiencing the best.

AS with most things in life, ''live and learn'' applies to cooking fish roe. My assistant, Esti Marpet, poached pike roe in a court bouillon -- a mixture of water, wine, vegetables and herbs. It is a much less fattening and less expensive method, yet we found it to be full of flavor.

Of course, you can poach roe in water, which has the great advantages of allowing you to save the cooked roe and eat it cold later (poaching in butter does not produce an appealing dish of leftovers).

Cover the roe with boiling water or court bouillon by an inch and simmer until the roe is opaque. Shad roe will take 9 minutes, pike roe 50 minutes and bass roe 11 minutes.

Roes can be served whole, and the larger roes can be sliced across into about inch-thick slices. Hot or cold, roe can be served simply with a slice of lemon, but sauces can be very pleasant, even festive.

If the roe has been poached in butter, a butter-based sauce, like the brown butter sauce here, would complement it well. For cold roe, try the South of Spain Sauce, a lively combination of peppers, onions and tomatoes that is also served cold.

Fish eggs bind fat just as hen eggs do to make mayonnaise- or hollandaise-type sauces these can be embellished with shallots, garlic or other fresh herbs. I particularly like to do this trick when someone has caught trout, using the roe to make the sauce. The roe mayonnaise here makes an appetizing dip for the season's fresh vegetables.

What to Cook This Weekend

Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the weekend. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

    • In this slow-cooker recipe for shrimp in purgatory, the spicy red pepper and tomato sauce develops its deep flavors over hours.
    • Deploy some store-bought green chutney in this quick, saucy green masala chicken. could be good for dinner, and some blueberry muffins for breakfast.
    • For dessert, watermelon granita? Or a poundcake with macerated strawberries and whipped cream?
    • And for Memorial Day itself? You know we have many, many recipes for that.


    3 pairs of shad roe sacs (about 1 1/2 pounds total), or use one pair of pike roe sacs (1 3/4 pounds) or, for a snack, one pair of striped bass roe sacs (3 ounces)

    1. Gently pull the sacs away from each other, and the membrane attaching them will come apart. Snip any pieces of membrane that do not break easily with kitchen scissors. Take care not to tear the sacs. Run them under cool water, and pat them dry.

    2. To know how much butter to poach the roe in, place the sacs in a straight-sided frying pan or saucepan just large enough to hold them in one layer. Add water to halfway up the sides of the sacs. Drain water off into a measuring cup. The level of water in the measuring cup is the level that the melted butter to cook the roe should reach. (In poaching pike or striped bass roe, the water should almost cover it. Both of those puff up in cooking, so they will need more butter.)

    3. Remove the roe from the pan, and wipe the pan dry. Place the melted butter in the pan over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, carefully slip the roe into the pan in one layer. Return to a boil.

    4. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute to firm up the roe. Turn the heat to low (bubbles should be breaking the surface, but not vigorously). Cook for 2 minutes. Gently move each piece to assure that it does not stick. Continue to cook 4 minutes more (5 minutes more for the bass, 27 minutes more for the pike). Carefully flip each piece. Cook for 3 minutes, moving roe gently so that it does not stick. Continue to cook until the roe sacs have changed color and are opaque all the way through, 4 minutes for the shad, 5 minutes for the bass and 27 minutes for the pike. Move the pike occasionally to keep it from sticking.

    Yield: The shad serves three as a main course, and the pike serves four. The bass serves two as a snack.

    2 tablespoons drained capers

    4 teaspoons tarragon vinegar

    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

    1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook butter until brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

    2. Stir in the capers and vinegar mixture will spatter and foam up. Remove from heat. Continue to stir until foam subsides. Stir in salt and pepper. Pour the mixture on the roe that has been poached in butter.

    2 medium Italian frying peppers or 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and finely diced

    1/2 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely diced

    2 medium tomatoes, cored and finely diced

    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

    In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour the mixture on top of the roe that has been poached in water.

    About 3 ounces shad roe, broken in pieces, with the loose membranes discarded

    1 1/4 cups vegetable or canola oil.

    1. In a food processor, pulse the roe until it is liquid. Add the salt and lemon juice, and pulse to combine.

    2. With machine running, pour oil through feed tube a few drops at a time. When about 1/2 cup has been added and sauce starts to thicken, pour a little faster, in a slow steady stream, until all the oil has been incorporated. Stop once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. If the mayonnaise seems too thick, add 1 tablespoon water and pulse to combine. Use as a dip for vegetables.

    Sunday Cooking – Shad and Shad Roe

    The shad are running. American shad (Alosa sapidissima ) aka white shad, common shad, or Atlantic shad is one of Nature’s seasonal gifts. (Actually, virtually every good food is one of Nature’s seasonal gifts if you think about it). Shad spend most of their lives at sea eating plankton, small crustaceans and small fish, and only migrate up fresh water tributaries to spawn in early spring. Often their migration coincides with the blooming of the shadblow (Alemanchier canadensis), hence the common name for a seasonal signal that Native Americans and others who forage, fish and hunt look for every year.

    My husband, an Eastern Shore hunter-gatherer from childhood, once caught a shad about the size of a dachshund that we cleaned, stuffed with herbs and orange slices, wrapped in tin foil and baked until just done. Yum. Sweet and flakey. People moan about the bones in shad – indeed it’s a fish with plenty of little stiffeners, a cosmic joke to predators, perhaps. I’ve heard people say you can cook shad for a long time at very high heat in the oven so the bones ‘melt.’ I tried it once years ago but ended up with boney, desiccated fish.

    “I think it’s malarkey,” says Kevin McKinney, chef/owner of Brooks Tavern. “I can’t think of any fish where the bones melt!”

    Shad and shad roe, available right now, are two of the foods of my childhood shad roe always hit our plates when the first daffodils began to bloom. Mom invariably gently fried in butter – never margarine — the twin egg sacks, which look fairly revolting, like lungs or something a surgeon usually deals with. It may look less than appetizing, but nutritionally dense shad roe tastes slightly meaty rather than fishy, which is one reason people often pair it with bacon, one of the ways McKinney prepares shad roe.

    “We have wrapped it in bacon, floured and sautéed it in clarified butter, that simple,” says McKinney, “or floured it and sautéed it with crisp chopped bacon on the side. This year, we are dipping it in buttermilk, then in flour to give it a little more crust. I start it off at medium heat so it doesn’t explode in my face. If it’s big, I brown them well, then finish them in the oven. If medium or small, I just sauté them until done in the pan.”

    He usually adds a drizzle of lemon-garlic vinaigrette at the very end.

    “It helps to cut the richness of the roe,” he says. “And sometimes we add candied lemon rind, which is one of our signatures.”

    My mother often served creamed cabbage and mash with shad roe. McKinney usually accompanies it with braised, lightly sweet-and-sour cabbage, either red or green, which not only contrasts deliciously with the roe, but also ‘makes sense’ for the season.

    “Shad roe’s an early spring dish,” McKinney explains. “There’s not much else around.” Cabbage can be overwintered or stored and therefore be available when few other fresh local greens or vegetables are. Spinach grown in high tunnels was available this winter from local growers. “If you have spinach that winters over, it’s also nice to put underneath [the roe] and then a vinaigrette on top of that.”

    For the shad itself, McKinney says he loves it with asparagus, a vegetable that is just coming into season as the fish are going out, an ephemeral ships-that-pass-in-the -night kinda dish, which makes it all the sweeter when it’s here.

    1 head of red or green cabbage, thin-sliced

    1 medium onion, thin-sliced

    Sweat the onions in a mix of butter. Add cabbage, red wine vinegar, red wine, sugar, salt and pepper and cook very gently until vegetables are soft and have taken up the liquid.

    If you want to cook shad and shad roe once on Sunday and eat twice (or more) during the week, get extra fish, wrap it in tin foil and bake it. Then mix the flaked fish with leftover mashed potatoes (or microwave and mash a potato or two with a little milk or cream, some salt and pepper ). The balance should be should be about 60% fish, 40% potato. Add a dash of hot sauce, some finely chopped onion, a little fresh parsley, form into cakes and fry. Comfort food. Or make soup – chicken or fish stock, chopped onion, chopped celery, a little chopped sweet pepper or chopped roasted pepper, maybe some frozen corn and a diced potato. When the vegetables are tender, add some milk and the fish with plenty of pepper and some paprika. Bring to simmer and thicken with a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with milk. Have less than 1 cup of leftover fish? Make smoked fish pate. Add a dash of liquid smoke, some chopped scallions, lemon juice, a dash of Worcestershire, mayo and a bit of cream cheese and spread it on toast of crackers.

    What Is Shad Roe and How Do You Cook It? - Recipes

    Carefully separate the lobes of the shad roe set and season it with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper on both sides. Set aside. Heat up a cast iron pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and a swirl of olive oil. Make sure that the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. Add the chopped garlic and move it around in the pan with a wooden spatula until it turns golden. Gently lay the shad roe into the pan and let it brown for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. It should feel firm, like a medium cooked steak. Set on a plate.

    Lower the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan with the chopped parsley until it has softened and mixed well with the garlic bits in the pan. Squeeze in the lemon juice to loosen it into a sauce. Add a little bit more butter or olive oil, if necessary. Taste and adjust the flavor. Capers can be added to taste if preferred. Spoon the sauce over the shad roe.

    Serve with a side of smoked bacon and a bottle of crisp white wine. A freshly tossed salad with a lemon-vinaigrette provides a nice textural and taste contrast to the richness of the shad roe.

    Watch the video: Shad Roe and Bacon (January 2022).