Skate with Capers


Skate is a wonderful fish; its thin, firm, but feathered white meat tastes sweet, with a surprisingly pleasant accent of ammonia. Because demand is low for this variety of ray, it is still very affordable in the United States. I had my first great skate dish in one of New York’s top French restaurants some fifteen years ago and decided to look for it to cook at home. It’s often available at the Union Square Greenmarket, and when I buy it, the next person in line inevitably asks, “How do you cook it?” My answer: “Pure and simple.”


1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 skate wings (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium tomatoes, cut in quarters
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1⁄4 cup drained capers

Yield: 4 servings


Put 2 cups water in a large, deep skillet. Add the salt, peppercorns, and vinegar, and bring to a boil. Add the skate wings, and simmer for 8 minutes. (You may have to do two batches if your pan is not wide enough.) When poached, drain the fish, and set it aside on a warm plate. Cover with foil while preparing the sauce. Warm the oil in a small saucepan, add the butter, and stir over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Cook a few minutes, until the tomatoes soften. Add the capers, and cook another minute. Put a skate wing on each plate. Top with the tomato-caper mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. You may also want to drizzle on a touch more oil. Serve with cauliflower gratin or mashed Yukon Gold potatoes.