A lot of people who fish the surf and piers consider skates to be trash fish for many reasons. Usually, they’re targeting other popular fish in th
A lot of people who fish the surf and piers consider skates to be trash fish for many reasons. Usually, they’re targeting other popular fish in the surf like whiting, redfish, or pompano. So now having to deal with a skate is undesirable, they are poor fighters unless very large, difficult to clean, and often thorny and a pain to handle. There’s that old story about some cheap buffet using a cookie cutter to make fake scallops from skate wings, but that’s just fudd lore. Once you actually clean and cook some skate you’ll see that the meat is nothing like scallops.
My first experience with skate was the same as other anglers, me and my buddies were camping and trying to catch some whiting to fry up for dinner. But all we ran into was skates, I think we saw only one whiting get pulled up that whole day. I knew skate wings are often eaten in Europe so I decided to start keeping some skates and taking their wings off. You can skin them like you would a catfish and find a light pink delicate meat, that when breaded and fried is amazing. I barely got to eat any of the skate at camp that night with how fast the guys were eating them. We’re going to do skate wings a bit fancier than fried over a camp stove today.
Brown Butter Skate Wing Ingredients
- 1 fresh skate wing
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1/2 lemon
- fresh ground pepper
Pureed Parsnips Ingredients
- 1lb parsnips
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 cloves garlic
- white pepper
We’ll start with the pureed parsnips because they take longer to finish cooking. Wash then peel the parsnips first. Make sure to tap the stems and tips off the parsnips.
Once they are clean and peeled start cutting up the parsnips into similarly sized pieces and put them all into a saucepan. Then get the four cloves of garlic and mince them up and also add them into the saucepan.
Add the cup of heavy cream, two tablespoons of butter, and a sprinkle of salt and white pepper to the saucepan. Put over medium heat and let simmer with a lid on the saucepan. Cook this until the largest piece can easily be pierced by a paring knife.
Once they are done, use an immersion blender and puree the parsnips until smooth. Season to taste and set aside until the skate is ready.
For the skate wing, make sure to peel the skin off of both sides of the wing. Be careful when skinning though, the wings have thorns and the slime stings and acts as an anticoagulant. You can use catfish skinning pliers or some paper towels to help give you grip to peel the skin off by hand like this. When you harvest a skate you want it to bleed immediately, I like taking the wings off as quickly as possible as well. These fish like sharks are highly perishable and will take on an ammonia odor if not taken care of properly.
Prep the skate wing by trimming off the edge of the wing, it’s thin and will durn easily in the hot pan.
Depending on the size of your skate wing you can leave it whole or split it into portions as I did. This wing was 1.6 pounds so I split it because there have cartilage instead of bones this is easily done with a sharp knife.
Salt and pepper the portions of skate wings on both sides and leave them out to warm up a bit to room temperature.
In a nice nonstick(which I did not do and paid for) pan heat up a bit of oil over medium heat and then add the skate wings to them. Make sure to place the wings thicker side down, the backside of the wing is thicker than the belly side, and let them cook about 3 to 4 minutes on the first side.
Once you flip the wing pieces, add in the 2 tablespoons of butter and the capers into the pan. Then baste the butter and capers over the wings as it finishes cooking for another 3 minutes. Pull the wings when done and put them aside. Then squeeze the lemon juice into the pan and make a pan sauce with the browned butter and capers.
Plate by putting down some of the pureed parsnips first then place the skate wing on top, then ladle on the capers and brown butter sauce over the skate and serve.
Things to note here, use a nice pan that the wing won’t stick to. The pan I had available was pretty beat up and so the wings stuck causing the final dish to be ugly, still tasty but kinda fugly. Either way stop chucking out these
“trash” fish, you’re missing out on a very nice cut of fish.