I have been on my travels in recent weeks and whenever I am away from my home in southern Spain there are two things that always miss – the quality of the fresh fruit – and fresh fish. So on my return from my latest trip I hot-footed it to my local market to see what fish looked good. It is the season now for Bonito which is a variety related to Tuna, and that looked really good and fresh, but what really caught the attention of my mental taste buds was the Skate.
You could have the skinned wings only, or at a more economical price the whole fish. In these straightened times I thought you would like to know how to deal with the whole fish, from which there were two portions of a wing each, the body made enough soup for eight, and there were a couple of meals for the cats as well – all for less than 4€!
Skate has no scales, but the skin feels a little slimy and it has some sharp barbs around its head area, so rubber gloves are essential for handling it. Firstly wash it, and then put it on a board and cut off the wings. Remove the guts from the body and give to a grateful cat. Cut the body into three or four pieces for making into soup. The recipe will be in next post.As I mentioned above the fishmonger will skin the skate wings for you, but I prefer to cook them with the skin on as the skate cooks so quickly that it is too easy to overcook them if they are already skinned. Once cooked the skin peels off very easily.
To cook the wing put it in a pan with some sliced onion, a sliced clove of garlic and a pinch of salt. Put in enough water to just cover the fish. Put the pan over a medium heat and bring slowly to a simmer. If you want you can add sliced potatoes at this stage to cook with the fish. For a wing the size above – it is pictured on a standard sized dinner plate – simmer for seven minutes.
Prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan put about 20 gms butter, the juice of half a lemon and dessertspoon of chopped capers. Leave on one side until you are ready for it.
Remove the fish to a warmed plate. You can leave your potatoes cooking with the onions while you skin the fish. Put the sauce on a very gentle heat. Starting from the thicker side of the fish using a smooth bladed knife gently push the skin away from the flesh and then slide it off the plate. Turn the fish over and do the same the other side. The darker side of the wing always has tougher and thicker skin than the pale side.Keep an eye on your sauce and stir it or swirl it around from time to time. You do not want the butter to melt entirely, just enough to mix with the lemon and capers, and then remove it from the heat.
Transfer the fish to a clean warm plate. Drain the potatoes reserving the liquid to go towards the soup, and put the potatoes on the plate with the fish. Pour over the sauce. Season well with lots of freshly ground black pepper and serve.
I will continue with the fish soup recipe tomorrow.