I reported on skate wings once before.
They are a cartilaginous fish that lay eggs (in a hard case for protection), and there are over 150 species. I have no idea if they are all edible, or any idea what particular species my meal is coming from. (The scientist in me would like to know…) There are indeed some species that are endangered, but not all of them, and the price for this fish was very reasonable, so it doesn’t appear that this one is endangered.
I am pleased to report that I’ve found a place near my new home that sells seafood which I am finally interested in buying – well, they are 40 minutes away, but they do exist! Guido’s sells a lot of interesting food – they have a good stand of local pastured meats, and I found ramps there, as well.
The veggies all look crisp and fresh – okay the ramps looked a little worse for wear, but still serviceable since they are of a limited season and are very hard to come across. They like marshy land near streams, with more sun than I have available by my own nearby stream. Ramps can be found in Appalachia and in the Northeast of the US, if conditions are right. They also had my favorite peppery green leaf: watercress.
For the salad, let your tastes and what is in the fridge be your guide. I had a lot of stuff left over from a taco bar I did with friends. The bell pepper, the cabbage slaw, the cilantro, some lettuce, many limes.
Regards the skate: if you are lucky, your fishmonger or his supplier will have removed the cartilage before you purchase. You CAN cook the skate wings with the cartilage still intact, but it’s a nuisance. I’ve done it, and it’s been fine, even if I never wrote that variant up. This way, it’s much easier to eat in polite company. And before you ask… I have tried removing the cartilage myself prior to cooking, but the results were pitiful-looking. Apparently a learning curve, or I’m just naturally a klutz (probably both). And another note: there are some recipes where you cook the skate long enough that one can actually eat the cartilage. Extra calcium? Maybe next time?
Taste is mild, moist and “not fishy” although if you let it sit a bit too long before cooking, it develops a taste of ammonia, which is very off-putting. I would cook it within 24 hours of purchase from a reputable fishmonger. It’s best, sooner.
Prep Time: 20 minutes.
Cook Time: 6 minutes.
Rest Time: Long enough to garnish.
Serves: 2 with this salad.
Leftovers: The fish will be fine, the salad will wilt.
Pan Fried Skate Wings
- About half a pound or so of skate, cartilage removed. (Two wings.)
- 1/8 cup arrowroot powder.
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil. (or your preferred cooking oil.)
- 2 teaspoons butter, or ghee.
- About 5 ramps, roots cut off, bulb chopped, the green leaves coarsely chopped. Discard any bad bits. (No ramps??? Use 1 scallion/green onion, chopped, and a clove of garlic, peeled & minced).
- A good handful or two of lettuce for each person. Rinse and break up.
- 1/2 Bell pepper, de-seeded, and chopped.
- Fresh cabbage slaw to taste.
- 1 handful watercress, roughly chopped. (If you have it. In the summer, I’d be tempted by nasturtium leaves.)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or use Trader Joe’s ground Rainbow Peppercorns.
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- For garnish: 2 tablespoons rinsed capers and/or a teaspoon or so of chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice from half a lime or so. Or, use your favorite tangy salad dressing.
Prep all the ingredients, including setting up your salad serving plate (everything but the skate, oil, butter, arrowroot, ramps, and the garnishes), and heat your oil or ghee in a large skillet at medium/medium-high.
Put the arrowroot on a flat plate, heat the butter and oil in your skillet to medium, pat each skate wing dry, then coat it in the arrowroot powder, knocking off any excess arrowroot.
Place the wings in your skillet when your pan sizzles if you add a drop of water.
Sprinkle with half of the ground pepper and half of the thyme.
Add the ramps to the edges of the pan.
Mix the ramps occasionally, and at three minutes, flip the skate wings.
Sprinkle them with the other half of the ground pepper and thyme. Allow them to cook for another 2.5-3 minutes.
Stir the ramps again during this time.
Flip the wings back for 30 seconds, then plate on the salad. They may break up, this is fine.
Add the ramps over the skate, and then garnish as you please.
And serve while the skate is still warm.