Skate: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
Have you ever heard the old saw about unscrupulous fishmongers stamping fake scallops out of skate?
Don’t believe it. Anyone who has ever tasted (delicious) skate knows that the texture is totally different, not to mention the flavor.
It’s an unattractive fish, when seen “on the hoof”, for example when encountered in Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel market.
By the time it appears in American markets, or as seen here in Venice’s Rialto market, or on plates, it looks like a fan, not bizarre at all.
Enjoyed around the world, skate is best known here in the classic French preparation, sautéed and drizzled with beurre noir (darkly browned butter to which lemon or vinegar has been added, perhaps with parsley and capers as well).
A creative version appeared recently on the prix fixe lunch menu at Manhattan’s db Bistro Modern: Skate Weiner Schnitzel style, served on a bed of braised cabbage with mustard seeds with a chervil scented Bearnaise sauce . It was really tasty, and the myriad flavors made this seafood dish taste very Germanic.
In Asia, you’ll find skate in a few guises, notably seasoned generously then wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled, or steamed then served with spicy sauces.
Skates and sharks are both members of the Elasmobranchs family, meaning that they have cartilege instead of bones. Skates (sometimes called ray or raie) are not the same as notoriously dangerous sting rays or electric rays, although they resemble each other very closely, at least to the untrained eye. So, fishermen friends, if you hook one, release it rather than taking chances on getting injured.
The best place to catch this delicious fish is at the seafood store or in a good restaurant.
Good story about a wonderful boneless fish. Only the wings are used and they must be skinned and boned, usually done by the fishmonger after weighing the parts. I love the idea about skate Schnitzel although I think the conservative Viennese would not be amused if they would find it on the menu under this name. I think the combination of flavors at the db Bistro Modern is brilliant.