An ocean fish from both coastlines, the shad can be found in the Pacific from Mexico to Alaska and in the Atlantic from Mexico to New Found land. The shad, like the salmon, is born in freshwater then migrates to the sea. It lives at sea and then migrates to freshwater rivers to spawn. This is where they are caught commercially and are known as river herring. The largest member of the herring family, it has been known to reach 14 pounds and 3 feet in length although the market size is about 3-5 pounds. Shad is a silver colored fish with a bluish- green back and a prominent dark spot directly behind the gills followed vertically by as few lighter ones. It has a deeply forked tail and is a very boney fish usually sold whole for baking. The meat of the shad is grayish in color and turns from pink to brown when cooked. The darker meat is richer in flavor. The shad has mild fishy flavor and is high in fat content. The best way to cook shad is to poach, bake, broil, steam or sauté.
The herring is a large family of fish found in the cold waters of both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. On the west coast they are found from Alaska to California and on the east coast they are found from New Found land to North Carolina. The herring is said to be the most abundant fish in the world and travels in very large schools. Herring is a very boney fish and is a prime candidate for smoking or pickling and the young herring are sold as sardines which are its most common form found in the United States. Sometimes called sea herring or pilchard, the herring is a torpedo shaped fish with a blue- green back, silver sides and a sharply forked tail. The most common market size is from 5 to 9 inches but they can grow up to 1.5 pounds and 14 to 18 inches in length. They can live to about 20 years old. Because of their very rich, oily meat, they are most often salted, pickled or smoked. The herring’s tender, flaky flesh has a distinctive flavor and is high in fat content and remains very moist after cooking. The best way to cook herring is to pan fry, oven fry, bake, broil or poach.