Skate with Lemon and Capers

Retro Skate

So, having had a moment of madness slow cooking pork and beans not so long ago, I have reverted to summer style cooking. Phew!

My lovely Fish man, who is soon going to have his own fan club out here in blogland, came up trumps this week with a delicious skate (or ray) for us.  He knows that Big Man and I both love it, so if he can get hold of skate, he always saves me one.

They´re odd looking fish, a bit scary looking too to deal with, but actually quite straightforward when you know how.

The Skate, the whole Skate, and nothing but the Skate

A skate has two very distinct wings and if you get your knife in between the nodule and the “back bone” it just cuts straight off.  

Slip the knife in so...

Voilá, two perfect portions.

Ready to be coated in flour and fried

And the other bits still have a lot of meat on them so pop them into a pot with some water, bay leaves, peppercorns and any vegetables you have to hand and you´ll very soon have a delicious fish stock and lots of bits of delicious skate trimmings to put into a paella or a seafood stew.

I dusted the wings in flour, seasoned them and then fried gently in a huge frying pan in a very little olive oil (although it would be very good with butter).  When the skate was lightly browned on both sides I put them to one side and kept warm, turned up the heat and fried some capers until brown then added a good squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of white wine and reduced until just a few tablespoons of juices were left. I poured these over the skate, poured two good glasses of white wine and we sat back to enjoy.

When I was very young my parents both worked in the catering trade, but Sunday lunch we sometimes managed to spend time together.  My father´s idea of a relaxing Sunday lunch was to go on a busman´s holiday and check out his pals´ restaurants.  This meant I got to visit some really quite nice restaurants in central London from a very early age.  No concession was made (quite rightly I still feel) to children by preparing “kids meals”, we all got whatever the chef or manager thought was his best dish of the day.  I loved it when we got served skate as the meat slides easily off the bone and there are no tricky bits to get lodge in a small person´s throat.  Memories of this dish take me back to Soho, London circa 1975 – hence my retro photo!

If you like this, check out Tandy´s delicious Hake with Olives, Anchovy Butter and Caper Berries over at Lavender and Lime.


37 thoughts on “Skate with Lemon and Capers

  1. This is fabulous, I like the no kid’s menu rule. Also, it’s way better than a retro skate in the states. That would involve Gen Xers strapping on leg warmers and hitting the only open roller rink in two counties. Bad 80s music would also be in order. I have to run call Katherine, I just got the best idea for a date night!

  2. Hi Chica. What a wonderful childhood you had. Having met your Ma and Pa I can imagine the fun you must have had at the weekends. Lucky you getting skate up in the mountains! Looks delicious.
    Regards Florence x

    1. Hey Florence! We didn´t get too many Sundays together as my dad was usually working (the alternatives were spent with my mum, brother, god mother and her kids going for picnincs – usually in the rain!), The time we did have though was always fun! Have a great Sunday, Chica x

  3. What a beautiful story behind this dish! This is what makes a dish so special as yours! It must have been fun on Sundays trying those great London restaurants with your Mom and Dad! I have to tell you, I have never tried skate before!! Wow!! This looks amazing! Brava!!!

    1. Thank you – I am lucky, I have such happy childhood memories. You must try skate – it slides off the large bones and has such a lovely flavour. Even just fried in butter with a squeze of lemon juice!

  4. Lovely looking Skate! I too was lucky to be taken to restaurants as a child and really appreciated proper food (I was never one for beans, fish fingers and chips anyway).

    1. I do remember once complaining to my parents that I wanted to eat “proper” food like the other kids at school…I think I though I was missing out on something. Once I found out what I was missing out on, I happily reverted to pasta (especially when we were tight on cash) and grilled meats and vegetables Italian style 😉

  5. My father was in the restaurant business and, like you, we often dined in his friends’ places and, also like you, we never ordered from the kid’s menu. Living so far inland, the only place I’d find skate is on a menu. If I see one now, thanks to you, I’ll be able to fillet it & cook it. Skate beware!

    1. I guess we started to appreicate good food early on – how lucky we were! Do give skate a go if you ever see it…maybe frozen? Not sure how it would freeze, it is quite a sturdy fish though.

  6. Love this recipe. You’re right, skate can look a bit daunting at the start. I now know how to sort it out – thank you!

  7. I will definitely have to give Skate another go. You make it look too easy. And those Capers! Giants indeed. Restaurants in Soho in the 70’s ‘eh! Nope, can’t beat that. My only Soho experience in the 70’s as a kid was for a load of us to pile into a strip show where l saw my first naked lady!! Strange days indeed!

    1. Am laughing here! We did used to get rushed past “certain” establishments while my younger brother used to drag his heels and try to look at the posters of the “naughty girls”!!

  8. I LOVE skate, but unfortunately, it’s a tough sell in the markets around here. In my former incarnation as a seafood retailer, I tried to develop a local market for it, doing tastings and demos whenever possible – no dice. Now that I’m not in the buisness anymore, I almost never find it for sale…

    Great ‘how-to’ photos for filleting… Wish Americans weren’t so terrified of fish with the bones still in.

  9. You never see skate in the fish markets here and only occasionally on the menus in our restaurants. We do enjoy it when we travel in Europe, as it is often on the menus.

  10. I’ve got to confess that I’ve been guilty of making something different for my kids a time or two. Not any time recently, but a few times when they were really young.

    This looks really tasty! I’ve got two mostly non-fish eaters in my house. It’s my husband and my son. They will eat salmon, talipia and catfish. That’s it. I could probably make this with tilapia.

    1. And I don´t blame you! I think what I meant was that way back then there was no such thing as a kiddies menu (just smaller portions!). Think this would be good with any firm fish. And at the end of the day, you have to cook what makes your family happy becuase you love them 🙂

  11. when we were in Devon we ate ray knobs – the lovely bit of flesh left over when the skate wings are cut. They were like scallops 🙂 Thanks for the link back, and for sharing a great memory 🙂

  12. I enjoyed hearing of your childhood memories so many of mine are related to food! Now, I agree with thefooddoctor – this is one scary looking fish, but once cut with the wings only, it is actually so beautiful!

    1. Thank you – I think a lot if us have “foodie” families, which is so lucky that we started early to appreciate all the wonderful things on offer. Skate does look a whole lot better when it´s just the wings, I agree!

  13. I don’t think I’ve ever had Skate before, and am always lost as to how to cook fish! This should be a bit inspirational…

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