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How to cook skate fish

Updated March 07, 2019

Skate is a fish that has thick skin, cartilage vertebrae and dense, flavourful flesh. It responds well to several cooking methods, most notable braising and pan frying. Skate differs from other seafood in that its flesh gets tender the longer its cooked, yet it still retains a hearty quality when cooked quickly. For example, a pan-fried skate will have a consistency similar to medium-rare meat -- rich and chewy, while a braised skate has a consistency similar to slow-cooked meat. Market-form skates have the skin removed and are fabricated into wing meat - the only edible portion.

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  1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat for three minutes. Slice half a fennel bulb, and dice up two shallots, and place them in the pan.

  2. Sauté the shallots and fennel for four minutes. Add one clove of finely minced garlic and 1/2 tbsp lemon zest and cook until fragrant, which will take approximately three minutes. Add 10 halved cherry tomatoes and cook for two minutes. Add 237 ml (1 cup) dry white wine and bring to a boil.

  3. Boil until the liquid reduces in half by volume, which will take approximately eight minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to a baking dish in an even layer. Preheat the oven to 163 degrees C (325 degrees F).

  4. Rinse and dry two 227 g (8 oz) skate wings with paper towels. Coat the skate with a thin layer of olive oil, and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the skate over the contents of the baking dish. Place one fresh rosemary sprig, one fresh thyme sprig and 1 tbsp capers in the liquid in the baking pan.

  5. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminium foil and place in the oven. Braise the skate for one hour, or until tender.

Pan fried

  1. Rinse two skate wings and pat dry with paper towels. Place the skate wings in a shallow dish and cover with whole milk. Combine 125 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour, 1/2 tbsp kosher salt and 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper in a mixing bowl. Place the seasoned flour on a plate in an even layer.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat for three minutes. Remove the skate from the milk and shake off the excess. Dredge the skate in the seasoned flour and place in the pan. Cook the skate until golden brown, approximately three minutes each side.

  3. Heat 1 tbsp unsalted butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a clean pan over medium-high heat. Add two thinly sliced shallots, and 50 g (1/4 cup) sliced Kalamata olives to the pan and cook for three minutes.

  4. Add 1 tbsp capers, 1 tsp fresh chopped dill, 1 tsp fresh chopped lemon thyme and 1 tsp fresh chopped basil to the pan and cook for two minutes and stir well. Place the skate on the serving dish.

  5. Squeeze a fresh lemon over the skate and spoon the sauce over it. Finish with fresh chopped parsley.

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Things You'll Need

  • Braising:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 diced shallots
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cut into 6 mm (1/4 inch) pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 237 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
  • 2 227 g (8 oz) skate wings
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • Pan Fried:
  • 2 227 g (8 oz) skate wings
  • Whole milk
  • 125 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) sliced Kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped lemon thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped basil
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

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