Dill and Sour Cream Marinated Shad

I love eating marinated herring in Russian restaurants — except for the “herring under fur coat” salad, which simply looks gross. Sadly, I’ve never or hardly ever seen fresh herrings in stores, so I’ve never prepared my own. Things started looking up when I realized that American shad belongs to the same family and is readily available in season. New York fishermen can catch shads in April during their spawning run in the Delaware River. There’s even a shad festival in May.

Reading a great recipe for pickled herring got me motivated to take a shot at sour cream marinated shad. Because shad is bigger than herring, you can fairly easily pick out all the small bones, remove the skin, and discard the darker part of the flesh if you find its flavor too strong. The marinated fish can be kept in the fridge for a couple weeks and tastes delicious with potato pancakes.

Dill and Sour Cream Marinated Shad
Yields 2 pints

4 oz peeled onion
9 oz sour cream
4 tsp chopped dill
1/2 oz sherry vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 orange
1/2 oz sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
16 oz skinless, boneless shad fillets (about 28 oz initially)

  • Slice the onion very thinly with a mandoline and transfer to a bowl. Add the sour cream and dill, and mix well. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the combined vinegar, lemon and orange juices, then mix into the bowl.
  • Cut the shad into pieces 2-3″ long. Add to the marinade and incorporate gently with a spatula. Transfer to glass pint jars, and refrigerate for at least 48 hours. Take out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving.