America's Top Restaurants Dish Up Shad Roe

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Although much of the country is still bundled up in its winter coats, make no mistake about it: Spring is almost here. How can you tell, when there's still bitter wind in the Midwest and more than two feet of snow in the East? Easy. The shad are a-swimming.

Shad roe is a savory and rare delicacy. While one can usually enjoy caviar or cod roe year-round, the shad roe season lasts from March until May. That's when shad make their run from Chesapeake Bay to southern New England.

The time is now to steal a taste of this fleeting delicacy. Be on the lookout for it on your favorite fine-dining menus. When you see it, order it. You won't regret it. Although it probably won't look especially delicious to the shad roe newbie -- inside the large, double roe sacs are millions of tiny fish eggs held inside a thin membrane -- the taste is pure perfection. asked some of the country's finest chefs about the delicacy. Eric Ripert, executive chef and co-owner of New York's Le Bernardin says he likes shad roe rare, but warm.

"I like to sautee or bake them very slowly brushed with butter so they don't explode, and at the same time they stay rare inside," he says. "I like to serve them with a sauce that has some acidity in it, like a marinade almost. I use olive oil and I put some chopped capers, chopped shallots, chopped herbs, some chopped fennel or diced fennel, and then lemon juice and a little bit of smoked salt. Because of the contrast of the acidity and the richness I think it's very good. "

What is a good wine pairing for a range of wallets? "It will have to be a white wine, for sure," Ripert says. He recommends a wine with acidity, such as a sauvignon blanc by Cloudy Bay from New Zealand. For a more expensive wine, he suggests a white Bordeaux, like one by Chateau Lynch-Bages. People looking for luxury should buy a bottle by Chateau Haut-Brion.

In New York's Financial District, where rare commodities are traded with gusto, executive chef Shaun Hergatt prepares shad roe "lightly dusted with spice and flour and pan seared, served with lemon dust, fried capers and spring herbs" at his restaurant SHO Shaun Hergatt. .

In Las Vegas, where riches are made and lost in record time, chef Masa Ishizawa of Okada at the Wynn ( AVPAX) carries shad roe for five days around the New Year to keep with Japanese New Year traditions.

"We serve it traditionally, so that it represents prosperity and fertility," he says. "We soak the roe in water to remove some of the saltiness, then we place it in a subtly flavored dashi made with bonito flakes and konbu. We serve it with sake, any of which pair well with the roe. "

It's hard to go wrong with roe, and shad is not the only one with a luxurious flavor. Sturgeon eggs make delicious black caviar. Salmon eggs make sumptuous red caviar. Cod roe is the stuff of excellent taramosalata and tuna roe of fantastic botarga. Dean Max of 3030 Ocean at the Marriott International ( MAR) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., uses mullet roe. Max "softly sautees it in brown butter and keeps the garnishes delicate and soft to enhance the delicacy of the dish. " He serves it with a puree of cauliflower, sauteed tatsoi and the fish eggs sauteed in the brown butter, with a drizzle of lemon olive and crispy shallots."

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