The ocean is full of weird looking but delicious treasures. Skate is one of my favorites. Skate are smaller members of the Ray family who fly along the sandy bottom of the ocean propelled by their wings. Once considered a trash fish in the US, they have become prized for their sweet delicate flesh. Skate have no bones, only cartilage. The edible part is the wing, long skinny fingers of flesh fanned out along the wing. They’re a bit tricky to fillet and it’s best to let your fishmonger do that for you. But don’t let any of this deter you, they’re incredibly versatile and easy to cook. The one important thing to know is that skate is very perishable and should be cooked the same day you bring it home.
In France, pan fried “Aile de Raie” is a legendary dish and it couldn’t be any simpler. It’s lightly floured and sautéed in butter for a minute on each side, served with lemon and caper brown butter. Skate is also very tasty cold in a salad. Season the fish with a little lemon juice and salt, then bake or steam it quickly until done. Cool it in the refrigerator for a few hours. When cooled, shred the meat into a salad with green beans, peppers, slivered onions , cherry tomatoes and some really good olive oil.
Unique to skate, the little fingers of meat practically beg to be battered and fried. It’s quite easy and they’re positively addictive. If you’re really adventurous, you can also fry up little strips of the cartilage from the wings, un-battered, until they’re crunchy golden brown.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup beer
1 teaspoon salt
Whisk together the flour, beer and salt. Do not worry if the batter seems thin. Thin batter will cook up nice and crisp, not greasy. Thicker batter may coat things better, but it makes them doughy. Fry in clean oil at 350 degrees until light golden brown. Serve with Tartare sauce and fresh lemon wedges.