Shad Roe

Shad Roe

Actually this diary is not about food so much as it is about writing.

From 1934 to 1975 Rex Stout chronicled the adventures of Archie Goodwin (fictional detective) and Nero Wolfe.

If you have not yet made Archie’s acquaintance yet you really should.  He’s a fun guy.  Dances 2 or 3 nights a week, heiress girlfriend with interesting connections that can usually scare up a buck or two. Often deployed by his boss as a sympathetic face for the women to cry on the shoulder of.

Still, among your other exciting duties are the cataloging of the orchid hybrids and book keeping.

About Nero

His name is taken from The Black Mountain where he and Marko were born and where he served in Italian Intelligence during the first world war.  He has a house in Egypt you know.

Yet it is hard to pry him away from 35th street where he keeps a very rigid schedule.

  • 9 to 11 Orchids.
  • 4 to 6 Orchids.
  • Lunch is usually at 1:15 p.m.
  • Dinner is generally at 7:15 or 7:30 p.m.

He is obsessed with sausage recipes and never does business outside his house except when tempted by his love of food and flowers.  When he is not otherwise occupied he reads books about which he has strong opinions.

What makes Nero Nero instead of a Mycroft Holmes variant is that he’s admirably mercenary.  He’s not interested in detecting so much as he is in making money, right up to his Galtian marginal tax rate.


Among the gems at eksmas was a gift from Aunty Mame- an out of print copy of the Nero Wolf Cookbook-


I beg you not entrust these dishes to your cook unless he is an artist.  Cook them yourself, and only for an occasion that is worthy of them.

They are items for an epicure, but are neither finicky or pretentious; you and your guests will find them as satisfying to the appetite as pleasing to the palate.  None is beyond your abilities if you have the necessary respect for the art of cooking- and are willing to spend the time and care which an excellent dish deserves and must have.


I have never understood Wolfe’s attitude on food and eating and probably never will.  In some ways it’s strictly personal.

If Fritz presents a platter of  broiled squabs and one is a little plumper or a more beautiful brown than the others Wolfe cops it.  If the supply of wild-thyme honey from Greece is getting low I am given to understand that American honey on griddle cakes is quite acceptable.

And so on.

But it really pains him if I am out on a prolonged errand at mealtime because I may insult my palate with a drugstore sandwich and, even worse, I may offend my stomach by leaving it empty.

If there is a reason to believe a caller is hungry, even if it is someone whom he intends to take apart, he has Fritz bring a tray, not scraps.

As for interruptions at meals, for him there is absolutely nothing doing; when he is once in his chair at the table he leaves it only when the last bite of cheese or dessert is down.  That’s personal, but he has tried on and off to extend it to me, and he would if I would stand for it.

The point is, does he hate to have my meal broken into because it interrupts his, or because it interrupts mine, or just on general principles?  Search me.


I am happy that my friend Mr. Archie Goodwin will have pleasure with the money he gets from this book.  Also I am willing for his literary agent, Mr. Rex Stout, to receive his usual share.  Also I am not surprised that my employer, Mr. Nero Wolfe, approves of it’s publication because he has a great belief in the influence of printed words in books.

But I have not a great hope that many people will eat superior meals because they buy this book and use it.

On that I could say much but I will not write much and I will give only one case.

There are a man and a woman, married, at whose home I eat sometimes.  They own fourteen cookbooks, good ones which they have asked me to suggest, and they have many times asked me for information and advice about cooking which I have been happy to give, but the dishes they serve are only fit to eat.

They are not fit to remember after I come away.

Those people should not try to roast a duck, and especially they should never try to make Sauce Saint Florentin.

The facts about food and cooking can be learned and understood by anyone with good sense, but if the feeling of the art of cooking is not in your blood and bones the most that you can expect is that what you put on your table will be manageable.  If it is sometimes memorable that will only be good luck.  Mr. Wolfe says that the secrets of great cooking, like those of any art, are not in the brain.  He says that nobody knows where they are.

But I do not think this book will make your food any the worse.  At least it should help with some of the facts.

Shad Roe

Aux Fines Herbes

  • 2 pairs Fresh Shad Roe
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chervil (or 1/4 teaspoon dried leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon (or 1/4 teaspoon dried leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallots.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the roe in salted water, simmering it for about 5 minutes.  Drain and seperate the pairs.  In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of butter and add the shad.  Cook the roe for a minute on each side over a medium flame, turning them very carefully.  Cover the skillet and reduce the heat.  Cook for 10 minutes longer.  Remove the roe to a heated platter.  Add the remaining butter and the herbs to the skillet and heat for 2 minutes.  Correct the seasoning and pour over the roe.  Serve immediately.

Shad Roe In Casserole (without onions)

  • 2 pairs Fresh Shad Roe
  • 4 tablespoons anchovy butter (see note)
  • 4 thin sheets pork fat
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chervil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram (or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375.  Blanche the roe in slated water for 5 minutes.  Drain and seperate the pairs.  Spread each piece of roe with a spoonful of anchovy butter and wrap each in the pork sheets, securing tightly with a thin cord.  Arrange the larded roe in the bottom of a buttered casserole and sprinkle them with chervil, shallots, parsely, marjoram, salt, and pepper.  Add the bay leaf to the dish.  Pour in the heavy cream and cover the dish with a heavy piece of aluminum foil.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for 5 minutes longer.  Correct the seasoning and serve the roe from the casserole or remove it to a heated platter, strain the sauce, and pour it over the roe.


Anchovy Butter

To make 1 1/4 cups of anchovy butter, mash eight fillets of anchovies with the juice of 1 lemon (or 1 ounce of cognac) in a mortar until all the liquid has been incorporated.  Mix in 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley.  Add the mixture to 1 cup of softened sweet butter and beat well to form a smooth paste.  Pack into a small crock and refrigerate at least one hour before using.


    • RiaD on April 17, 2011 at 20:36

    I have no use for a bony fish!”

    mrD’s dad used to say that anytime shad was brought up.

    i really like the idea of anchovy butter.

    bet that’s be delicious on french bread with spaghetti & clams (white sauce).

    i’ve not had roe except crab roe in she-crab soup.

    the book sounds delightful.

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