SKATE // the local food report

Remember how last week we talked about dogfish? Skate's in the same genre. It's got a bad rap—people call it a trash fish, and if it's not treated properly it can smell like ammonia. But that's not the whole story.

Skate is super abundant locally. It's what a lot of boats are catching now that there aren't groundfish around, and it's considered a delicacy in Asia and many parts of Europe. There are over two hundred species worldwide, and seven species on the North Atlantic coast, but the skate people catch around here are mostly Winter Skate—also known as big skate or Cape Cod Rays. They're flat rays, bottom feeders, and treated properly, they yield four sweet, white meat fillets.

I had skate for the first time a few years ago, when Alex braised it with butter and white wine. It was delicious—sweet, melt-in-your-mouth meat. He's revised his recipe a bit over the years, and this is what he makes these days. He recommends cooking the skate "on the bone," which means the cartilage stays in. (Skates don't have actual bones, just cartilage skeletons.) NOAA also has a delicious recipe for Old Bay Crusted Skate Wing, which you can find over here

A quick note about contaminants. Some people will warn you that skate has mercury in it. This is true, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll learn that skate has a lot less mercury than species we eat all the time—things like lobster, tuna, bluefish, striped bass, and even oysters. The general recommendation is one serving a week, which is a lot less skate than we're eating at the moment. 

Finally, the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman's Alliance is hosting an event next Tuesday, July 30th to introduce the public to local skate fishermen and to offer a taste of skate prepared by a local chef. It's a good way to meet a species that's both local and abundant. You can find out more over here.

Anyone else have a skate recipe they want to share?

Thank you to Nancy Civetta of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance for the photo!


Fred Kavalier said...

Skate is very popular in Europe and the UK. This is delicious and extremely simple to make.

Skate with Black Butter and Capers
This classic dish has a misleading name - the butter should turn a toasty caramel brown rather than black. Large, flat skate is ideal for frying: as it cooks, the pink-tinged flesh turns white with a firm, meaty texture. Once cooked, the flesh flakes away easily from the cartilaginous bones with the help of a fork.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2
• 2 small fresh skate wings, 200g-225g each
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• 75g unsalted butter
• Juice of 1 small lemon
• 1 tbsp Capers, rinsed and drained
• ½ pack fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Rinse the skate wings and use kitchen paper to dry thoroughly. Place the flour onto a dinner plate and season. Lightly dust both sides of the fish with the flour and shake to remove any excess.
2. Melt 25g of the butter in a large frying pan and fry the skate wings on a medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, until the flesh is firm and white and the skin is golden. Transfer to warm serving plates, cover with foil and keep warm.
3. Return the pan to a medium heat, add the remaining butter and cook until it turns caramel brown and smells nutty: be careful not to let it burn. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, whole capers and flat-leaf parsley. Check the seasoning. Pour the butter over the skate and serve immediately.

Elspeth said...

Thank you Fred! This is great.


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