If your skate wings are small serve one each, half each if largish, and cut into four pieces if large. The main thing is to make sure your fishmonger skins your wings on both sides. The white bread hear does not refer to slices of stodgy, soulless, packaged bread, but a loaf with a distinguished crumb and splendid crust. You need a spirited salad to follow.
What a crazy week! Work has picked up, my mother and puppy had birthdays, and I’ve started playing tennis again. I’m still cooking though, I’ve just not had time to post. But this dish was so good, that I’m making time tonight.
This is another time where I wish I could thank Mr. Henderson personally for including such a wonderful recipe in his book. I’ve never had skate before, so when I decided that it was now my favorite fish after the first bite, I was reminded that I needed to keep my mind open when it comes to trying new things.
Skates are bottom-dwelling, cartilaginous fish found throughout the world, and sadly the common skate and white skate are assessed as Critically Endangered by IUCN (World Conservation Union) and the fish is listed by the Marine Conservation Society as a “fish to avoid”. I’ll do my part and only buy skate only one more time to finish all the recipes in the book. If you do end up buying skate, remember to use it the same day. Skate is extremely perishable so don’t delay!
After setting the oven to 425°F, I splashed a little oil and dropped a knob of butter into an oven proof pan and placed it over a hot burner. Once the pan began to sizzle, I carefully laid the skate wings in and gave it a quick “shuggle” to keep the skate from sticking to the pan. I figured that I’d have the only use of “shuggle” on the internet, but apparently the term has various slang meanings. What Mr. Henderson is asking for is a quick shake of the pan. “Shuggle” is more fun to say though. Shuggle.
Minutes later I flipped the skate over and gave the pan another little “shuggle”. For those that have never flipped skate before, it’s really, really tough. As you can see in the picture, the wing was already starting to segment and fall apart. The wing that isn’t in the shot didn’t flip as cleanly, but it still came out just as delicious. The pan was placed into the oven shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, I prepped the capers, parsley, lemon and bread I needed to finish the recipe. I made sure to pick a bread with a respectable crumb.
When the skate was finished cooking, I removed the wings and set them aside. The pan was returned to the burner and a whole stick of butter was melted. The second it started bubbling, I added my cubed bread. The bread was supposed to get a little color and crispy, but still be giving on the inside. The lemon juice was stirred in and sizzled until it turned brown and then the capers were added. Seconds before serving the dish, I sprinkled the parsley into the pan and then poured it over the skate.
Here’s the final dish. I can’t begin to tell you how sad I am that skate is on the “Critically Endangered” list. Skate is a wonderfully tender, flaky, flavorful fish, and adding capers, buttery croutons and a brown butter sauce just elevates it to a whole other level. I can see why they’ve been fished so heavily, but I’ll be staying away for now. Hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy it carefree in the near future.
One down, one hundred and one to go.