A skate – either in the ocean or on a plate – is a strange creature to look at. It’s a bottom-dwelling, pre-historic seeming family of fish with a large pointed nose, eyes atop its head, and wings travelling from the tip of its nose down to its body, looking almost like a baby elephant that has been flattened and sent to live on the ocean floor. It’s those large wings which are of edible interest in the skate, covered in tender meat on both the top and the bottom of the fronds of cartilage that give the wings their structure.
I must have lived more sheltered a life than I realized, since skate is another food-stuff that I’d never come across until I was in my 20s (along with rhubarb and broad beans, gooseberries, and any kind of crumble). Like my other late-in-life food deprivations, I try to make up for lost time by eating skate whenever I find it. Mr A&N, more conversant in cooking skate wing than I am, has persuaded me that oven baking is the best way to cook it. The flesh is meaty, succulent and a bit sweet and always reminds me of crab. The oven baking keeps the tenderness sealed in along with its flavor. Oven baking is also an easy-as-anything way to cook the fish, as well as a healthy way of doing it. A strange looking creature, but an excellent dining companion.
- 2 skate wings (we prefer the biggest we can find, but then we're greedy)
- juice 1 1/2 lemon (2 lemons if your lemon isn't that juicy)
- 1 Tbs capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
- about 5 Tbs olive oil (bit more if your skate wings are on the large size and they're not being coated)
- handful each of flat-leaf parsley and basil, well chopped
- 1 C dry white wine
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/ 425 F
- Rinse and pat dry the skate
- Combine the lemon juice, capers, olive oil, herbs, white wine
- Place the skate in an oven-proof dish large enough to hold the two wings without overlapping.
- Cover the wings with the lemon juice mixture, making sure that the dish has enough liquid in it to cover the bottom completely with some of the mixture staying atop the skate.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the fish over
- Cook for another 15 or so, until the fish is cooked through (the flesh will come away from the cartilage fingers easily and will be opaque).