The skate is a cartilaginous (having a skeleton of cartilage) fish that is a member of a family that includes sharks and rays. Not surprising, really! If you take a closer look at it, the skate seems like a combination of the two, and shares both of their characteristics. It has a slightly pointed snout like a shark’s but with the wings of a sting ray. Although it resembles a ray, because of its pronounced wings, it has no nasty stingers. Instead, some skate has spikes. It also prefers deeper waters, unlike rays that usually hang out on shallow beaches. The skate can be found in all the world’s oceans, always in search for shellfishes and crustaceans to feed upon.
The Reputation Of Skate
Do you know that skates often get a bad reputation among fishermen? Recreational fishermen deride it for its spikes that can deliver a painful sting whenever they try to release it back into the water. Among commercial fishermen, the skate is not often actively fished, in fact, it is only considered as a b-catch by most; unintentionally caught whenever fishing for other commercially known species.
In addition, skate is not even a popular fish in the market, despite its relatively cheap price compared to other fish. Perhaps that’s because they look a little alien, though. So there’s no one to blame.
But believe us, as unappetising as it may look whole, once prepared, you have ‘one of a kind’ flesh, with really nice corrugations (ridges and grooves) that resemble wings. Upon cooking, you’ll see that it has one of the most aesthetically pleasing presentations that match its mild, sweet taste. The French have appreciated for skate, and they consider it as a gourmet fish in their cuisine.
Ready for some Skate? Check This Out First!
The skate is available all-year round. You can buy them whole, or skinned and trimmed. We highly suggest you pick the latter. The skin is just like sandpaper, and skinning it will be done by your fishmonger. You do the lovely cooking.
When it comes to buying them, always make sure to put your nose to work. The skate you are about to buy should have a nice ocean aroma. A bad skate reeks of ammonia, and should never be bought. You can store the wings for 2-3 days, but it is best to use them on the day or the next day upon purchase.
Preparing the Lovely Angel
The skate wings go from white to pink. The white part does not taste fishy. You can also soak it in cold water mixed with a teaspoon of vinegar or citrus juice. This acidulated water removes any traces of ammonia that might be left.
Whenever cooking or frying, cook the grooved or skin side first. Once you turn it to the other side, the wings will curl up and will give you some nice and tender angel-like wings that hold sauces quite well. Not to mention that it just looks perfect! Other note, do not to overcook it. Lest, it will break apart on the corrugation.