It seems clicheed, but here in Connecticut, shad is more than a fish.
First of all, it's our official state fish. Second, it's linked to a peculiar fishing culture that barely exists any more. If you've driven down along the lower Connecticut River, you've probably seen those sad shacks and wondered about them. And the Windsor Shad Derby is still a giant event as is the selection of a Shad Derby Queen.
Of similar magnitude is the Essex shad bake, where much is made of the whole business of nailing the shad to a plank and cooking it over a wood fire. There are people who say the shad is, among fish, an unpleasant thing to eat and who joke about throwing away the shad and eating the plank. And ten there is my friend Hugh Macgill, who abhors any main course that is not red meat but makes an exception -- a zealous exception -- for the mighty shad.
You see? It gets people stirred up. It's more than a fish.
Chris Prosperi's tips for cooking shad are in the audio.
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Special thanks to Heather Brandon for production assistance on today's show. Also, thanks to Martha Dean, who filled in for Chion Wolf today.