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Dining 4-28

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Susan S. Yeske: Recipe of the Week Shad is in season and it’s close to home The Lambertville Shad Festival may be behind us, but it’s still shad season in the Delaware River and beyond. If you manage to catch some shad in the river or snag some fillets from a fish seller, there are a variety of ways to prepare this ancient fish that fed our ancestors so well. It can be baked, fried, or added to soups and chowders. It’s one flaw is the large number of small bones that must be removed in order for it to be eaten. Some cooks have been known to place the fish in an oiled paper bag, then slow roast it for hours to melt the bones. You might even find it on the menu at some of Lambertville’s restaurants. Native Americans were the first to appreciate the bounty of fish that swam upriver to spawn each spring, providing ample food after the lean months of winter. They had so many fish they were able to use some as fertilizer when they planted their corn crops. Colonists were next to appreciate the wealth of food that the shad provided and learn how to prepare this bony, oily fish. The fish continued to be harvested by subsequent generations for many years until the river became too polluted for them to survive there, let alone spawn. A river cleanup brought them back and prompted the annual shad festival which celebrates the return of this member of the herring family to the Delaware. Lambertville has the only working shad fishery on the Delaware and older city residents can recall the days when residents walked down to the river to buy a fish for supper. Known for its delicate flavor and sweetness, shad is beloved by some fish lovers. but so is the roe, or fish eggs, if you happen to catch a female or find some roe at a fish market. There are plenty of eggs being produced; an average female shad will lay as many as 250,000 eggs during spawning season. George Washington reportedly loved shad (as did Thomas Jefferson) so it’s no surprise that this recipe comes from the website of mountvernon.org. Recipes on the site are adapted from cookbooks used by Martha Washington at Mount Vernon as well as from other 18th-century home cooks. Baked Shad 2¼ pounds of shad 10 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce ¼ pound (1 stick) butter, melted ½ tablespoon salt ½ tablespoon pepper ¼ teaspoon dry mustard ½ tablespoon vinegar Juice of ½ large lemon Mix Worcestershire sauce, melted butter, salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice. Heat and use to baste shad. Split shad. Place skin side down in a pan. Cook 15 minutes per pound (35 minutes total for 2¼-pound shad) in a 375-degree oven, basting with sauce every 5 minutes.  Serves 4 to 6


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