(Fiddlehead Ferns, Fingerling Potatoes, Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes)
This is a modern version of the planked fish that the Algonquins roasted on boards set at an angle by the campfire. The scent of the wood imparts its character to the shad fillet, and afterwards the aroma in your kitchen is subtly intoxicating. The plank makes a presentation that is optimum for stylish simplicity, with minimum of cleanup. You may find that children who otherwise shun fish take to this method.
If you make your own plank, oak or cedar are good choices for wood. Cut the board about 9 x 16 inches, 1½ inches thick. Plane it smoothly, giving one side a shallow indentation to hold food. Leave the wood unfinished. Wood planks for cooking can also be purchased at Sur La Table, Captain Marden's and Whole Foods.
Makes 2 or 3 servings.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Smear the top of the plank, where the food will be, with olive oil.
Lay the shad fillet skin side down in the middle.
Lightly brush or turn in olive oil whatever vegetables you choose and group them around the shad. Parboiled fingerlings, blanched fiddlehead ferns, red cherry tomatoes, thin asparagus and spring onions (scallions) with their green leaves cut in two-inch sections make a good combination.
Drizzle or brush more oil over the surface of the fish.
Squeeze the juice of a cut lemon over all, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Put the board in the oven on a middle or higher rack, close the door, and leave for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness-no longer! Serve directly from the plank.