The American Shad
Yes I know. Cooking fish on a wooden plank is sooo 90’s. A fad that was everywhere and in every chain restaurant you could think of. However, cooking salmon on a cedar plank is an interesting North American tradition, going back thousands of years. It traces back to the Pacific Northwest where the Indigenous peoples would and still do cook salmon over a fire on planks of Western Red Cedar. Cooking a salmon fillet on a plank is interesting, but what about a different planked fish closer to home…? One that has just as long of a history…
Of course, I am talking about the fish of Fishtown- Shad.
Shad is also a fish that has been cooked over a fire on sticks and planks made of Eastern White Cedar, Hickory, and Oak for thousands of years. It was a valuable Spring food for the Native Americans. The Lenni Lenape fished for it in all of the tributaries and rivers, in fact, they petitioned William Penn because the colonists were damming the Delaware with their mills and it was affecting their fishery. Penn made the colonists take down the mills, but treatment didn’t last past Penn’s death. The colonists got a taste for shad and it became a valuable commodity, being salted, pickled, smoked, and sold on streets and at the market. The colonists would cook shad on wooden planks too with bacon. George Washington himself was a commercial shad fisherman. I am getting my shad from @samuelsseafood
They are coming from Delware Bay and the Maurice River.
So why doesn’t shad have the same renown as salmon? Probably because of the bones. Shad are notorious for having 300 bones per fillet. The Pennsylvania Dutch had a saying if someone was late- “What? Have you been eating shad?” Despite the bones it is a delicious fish and I want to offer it at Elwood -I would like to offer shad for 2-4 people done family style. Either one whole fillet or the whole fish. These dishes will come with mashed potatoes, a vegetable and a some pickles and sauces. We will be open very soon -Within the next week- so stay tuned for reservations to go live.
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#fish #philadelphia #regional #regionalcuisine #local