Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sautéed Skate Wing

Skate wings originally attracted me because they fit nicely into my ideal food criteria: unusual, inexpensive, and unprocessed. Since then I've gotten them pretty much any time it's occurred to me, and I've never regretted it.

When I first bought one of these watermelon slice shaped pieces of the ray family, the fishmonger regarded me strangely. Finally, he spoke up:

Him: Are you French?
Me: No.
Him: Haitian?
Me: No.
Him: Then what are you? No one else likes to buy these things.

Why, I cannot imagine. Perhaps the shellfishiest fish, skate wings have a texture that it downright lobster-like though the flesh shreds apart like a Jewish mother's brisket. I simply dredge in flour and sauté in oil, or if I'm wise enough, butter. You can deglaze the pan with a splash of balsamic and reduce it, or dribble a little soy sauce over the finished product. That's Chinese broccoli in the background of the photo, but you can also serve it between bread for an extraordinary fish sandwich.

One strange thing about the skate wing: it sometimes leaves a feeling in my mouth not unlike a miniscule dose of menthol. Either it's a mild allergic reaction or just nature's way of letting you know your specimen is slightly past it's prime. Either way, it's pretty weird, but has never stopped me.

However, I just read that many skate are considered "Critically Endangered" by the World Conservation Union and are listed by the Marine Conservation Society as a "fish to avoid." So as much as I've loved eating them over the years, this one will have been my last.

Good luck, little skates.

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Gillian said...

also just discovered that it is endangered but was told it was just slightly so, not critically.Just ate some for supper - often buy it - but have never seen it in a restaurant (I live in South Africa) but now not so happy that it is not such an environmentally good fish to eat. A pity as I like it and it is damn cheap here too. But as it's not regarded as critical here, think I will continue to but it.

JacquelineC said...

This is not only an issue of critically endangered species conservation. It destroys ocean habitat and the poor things are often fished, "wings" cut off, then the still live fish is tossed overboard. F'n barbaric. Do not eat them. Tell your fishmongers not to supply them. Good alternatives are US Farmed Sturgeon and Diver Scallops.

gillian said...

Going to check where the skatewing I buy (in South Africa) comes from but it does sound pretty horrifying.

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