Before you know it, the month of April will soon be upon us. Along with its spring weather, baseball games, and Easter candy, April also means something else, especially to residents of Connecticut. That’s right, you guessed it – we’re talking about the beginning of Shad season. As most New Englanders are fully aware, mid April marks the beginning of the time when we can get out on the river and haul in a catch of that old Connecticut standby, fresh, delicious shad. Then again, if a long day of casting the line isn’t your style, come down to Atlantic Seafood of Old Saybrook where we’ve already done all of the hard work for you. You can stop by our fresh Connecticut seafood market and pick up as much fresh, delicious shad as your heart desires.
American Shad, or White Shad, as it is sometimes called, is considered by many to be one of the true signs that spring has finally arrived. Shad spend most of their lives living in the salt waters of the Atlantic Ocean, but when they reach maturity (generally between 3 and 6 years of age)1, they swim up to fresh water areas such as the Connecticut River to spawn and provide local anglers with some prime fishing opportunities. Shad are related to the Herring family of fish and are the only fish known to have the ability to hear ultrasound, which refers to sounds at a frequency higher than 20kHz, which is far beyond the range of what we humans can hear.
In regard to taste, Shad are widely considered to be in a class of their own. A moist and oily fish with a smooth and almost butter-like texture, Shad bear the scientific name of Alosa Sopidissima. Considering the fact that sopidissima is the Latin word for “very tasty”, one can see that Shad is a fish that has been enjoying a superb culinary reputation around the world for quite some time.2 As if this were not enough of a ringing endorsement, George Washington, the father of our country, had gone on record as having stated that Shad was his fish of choice. In addition to its great taste, Shad also possesses some excellent health benefits, namely being an (link)Omega 3 fatty acid rich seafood, which, as we’ve mentioned in previous posts, provides great benefits to both the body and the brain.
Shad are not prized solely for their meat, but also for their delicious roe. Shad roe has a distinctive red color which helps it to stand out from the more modestly colored roe of other fish.2 It has a strong and mineral-like flavor to it, often being compared to that of a fine liver pate. If you ever feel like trying out some of this “Connecticut Caviar”, make a trip in to see us, as Shad roe is just one of the many forms of specialty seafood that Atlantic Seafood of Old Saybrook has to offer.
We’ll wrap this post up by providing you a recipe for a deliciously simple Shad dish from The New York Times called “The Indoor Shad Bake” that is sure to please the whole family. Here’s what you’ll need to put this recipe together:
2 whole Shad filets
4 thick slices of bacon or salt pork
Salt and pepper, as desired
One broiling pan large enough to fit both fillets
1. Once you have all of your ingredients together, preheat your oven to 425 degrees
2. Season your fillets with salt and pepper, then put them skin side down in the broiling pan
3. Lay your bacon/salt pork diagonally across the top of both fillets and place the pan in the oven
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes.
5. Take the pan from the oven and remove the bacon and salt pork (if desired) and serve with the lemon wedges3
This recipe produces five servings, so you can make it in greater or smaller portions, depending on how many people you have to feed. Enjoy!
1. Beckius, Kim Knox
Spring is Shad Season in Connecticut
About.com New England Travel
2. Shaw, Hank
About.com Fish, Seafood, and Cooking
3. Libov, Charlotte
Savoring the Delights of Shad at Festivals Along the Hudson
New York Times, May 27, 1987