Sautéed Skate with Puttanesca Sauce
Broccoli with Spring Garlic, Vermouth, and Pecorino
Many people get nervous at the thought of cooking skate, a devilish ray from a voyage to the deep. There is really no need to worry. Skate is one of the easier seafoods to prepare. It stays moist even if slightly overdone, a rare quality for any seafood. It’s forgiving. It tastes like lobster. It’s absolutely delicious. Many of my friends will order it on a menu but not have the courage to bring it into their home. Bring it in. I’ll show you what to do.
Skate has no bony, fish-like skeleton, but instead is held together by cartilage, much like what keeps the tip of our nose jutting out from our face. You can cook it with the cartilage intact, but it’s easier to consume when filleted. Since the fillet is a little tricky to work off the cartilage in one piece, have your fish seller do it. Most places sell it already cleaned anyway.
My favorite way to cook skate is a quick pan sauté in a slick of olive oil, much the way I treat any number of fairly firm, white fish fillets, such as catfish or sole. I do a light dusting of flour, salt, and pepper, get the skillet really hot, and brown the skate well on both sides for a crisp crust and delicate insides. When cooked, a skate wing separates naturally into juicy, very tender cords that resemble crab meat (and that do, I swear, taste like lobster).
Skate is rich. It needs acidity. A standard French bistro treatment is a pan sauté with a finish of capers, lemon, and brown butter. They got that one right. Puttanesca, as all you Italian food lovers out there know, is a pasta preparation from Naples. The components, all strong flavors, usually capers, olives, anchovies, tomato, garlic, and herbs, go great with rich seafood, so I’ve decided on a Puttanesca-like sauce to top my skate. (more…)