*Please note on 2/28 this post was taken hostage for ARF/5#9 over at Sweetnicks. I've been overwhelmed lately, but will post more shortly*
Valued for centuries in Europe for its delicate scallop-like flavor and crab-like consistency, skate is the bottom dweller brought here to the spotlight.
Relative of the ray (as in sting ray), skates are oft admired for their smooth gliding ability. Their flattened diamond bodies barely skim the ocean floors, graceful and streamline, possibly the inspiration to many silver screen sci-fi futuristic machines—an interesting fact since these are some of the oldest underwater dwellers man knows.
Rumor has it that “faux” scallops are made from the meat of skate, but this is probably without merit. Though if the sweet scallop taste is desired, skate is an inexpensive and delicious alternative. It is also very healthy: low in calories and fat; loaded with protein and vitamin E. They are also without bones. Like sharks, the skate endoskeleton is made up of cartilage. This makes for easy cleaning and less hidden obstacles to choke down the throat.
Recently in the fish market I took notice to skates. Their fan-like “wings” create an appealing span visually. I probably bought this one because of the Olympics and so much skating (the sport) on television. I finally thought to give skate (the fish) a try.
In the New York area skates are at peak season April to June, and to a lesser extent now, October to February. For whatever reason, they have not gained much popularity in the United States and their cost reflects this (I found mine for $1.99 a pound). They are sometimes sold with their cartilage and skin in tact, though I found mine skinless and free of cartilage (often fish markets will de-“bone” them for you if asked).
Like most fish, the less put into it, the better it will taste, allowing its true delicate flavor to shine through. I did some rummaging and found most skate recipes called for a simple and quick pan fry, topped with a butter sauce. I followed this advice. The sweet potato chips with balsamic reduction were inspiration from a cooking show I saw on PBS over the weekend; balsamic reduction, placed over acorn squash. I did not have acorn squash, but thought sweet potato chips would do nicely.
This meal was filling, delicious, healthy and visually stunning. It is a semi-sweet, full of textures and flavors. For all the different elements, it is quick and easy to make and should be tried. Skate might just become your new favorite fish.
Note: All this may seem hectic and like a lot of steps to follow. It is really simple if you know what ingredients go to what and keep on top of things. Everything falls into place once you get started. Plus, so few ingredients are used it is difficult to really mess anything up.
Skate au Buerre Noir & Sweet Potato Crisps w/ Balsamic Reduction
Serves 2. Active Time= 30 minutes. Inactive time= 20 minutes.
The Sweet Potato Crisps w/ Balsamic Reduction
* 1 sweet potato, skinned
* 1 Tbl butter
* ½ cup balsamic vinegar
* 2 cloves garlic
1) In a small pot with water, over medium heat, add whole sweet potato (skinned). Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.
2) Remove from boiling water and run under cold water to bring temperature down so you can handle the potato. Cut into ¼-inch discs.
3) On a skillet on medium heat, melt the butter. As butter is warming, in a separate saucepan on medium-high heat add the balsamic vinegar and garlic. (This will be brought to a boil, stirred occasionally for about 10 minutes; until thickened.)
4) In the skillet, fry the potato discs until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. The balsamic should be slightly thickened at this point. Remove the balsamic reduction from the heat, leaving in saucepan; it will continue to thicken. Place potatoes in the oven at 250F to keep warm while you prepare the skate (recipe below). When ready to serve, drizzle balsamic reduction over top.
The Skate au Buerre Noir
* 2 skate steaks
* salt/ pepper to taste
* 3 Tbl flour
* 2 tsp paprika
* 1 Tbl butter
1) Wash off and pat the skate dry. (If pan is large enough to fit both skates, leave whole; otherwise, cut into halves or quarters.) Cover with salt and pepper to taste; sprinkle one side with paprika. Sprinkle flour on both sides.
2) Melt 1 Tbl butter over medium heat. When warm, add skate. Cook 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown. Remove from heat and cover with buerre noir sauce (recipe follows)
* 3 Tbl butter
* 2 Tbl parsley
* 2 scallions, chopped
1) Begin sauce before prepping skate. Prep skate as butter is browning, keeping an eye so as not to burn. In a saucepan on medium heat, melt butter with scallions. Heat until butter begins to brown and emits a nutty aroma. Add parsley, stir and remove from heat.