People can be so wasteful it is embarrassing. For many decades, watermen harvested the roe (egg sacks) from certain fish and throwing the carcasses to the dogs, scavengers, or letting them rot. This was the fate of the once numerous Atlantic Sturgeon, Blueback Herring, American and Hickory Shad. Fortunately, all but the sturgeon remain in numbers that can be harvested with heavy restrictions. Shad and herring roe are delicacies that fetch a high price in top restaurants.
The fish is not as adored because they have a plethora of bones. I grew up on shad and don’t mind picking out the succulent meat. Smoked is the best way of eating them as their oily texture readily takes on hickory flavor. Grilling and planking are also prefered methods to frying. But, if you really don’t want to deal with the bones, I recommend the following method for baking:
- thoroughly clean and scale a shad (leave the head on if you wish) and split the fish along the body cavity and backbone
- Generously season the flesh with lemon & pepper seasoning, liquid smoke, and sliced onion
- Close the fish up. Cut 4 or five slits in the fish crossways and season as you did the inside.
- Place the fish in a roasting pan and add a cup of boiling water.
- Cover and bake at 250 degrees for 5 hours
Using this method, the bones will dissolve into the meat. One bite and you will wish the shad were in season all year-long.