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Cooking Seafood (Skate wings)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Greetings All -
I have been away for the forums too long (job change, 'stuff happens', etc.), but I have need for your expertise. I have been 'playing' with Skate wings - I have a local international grocery store with very good seafood - I have traditional French recipes for skate wings (sauteed in brown butter, capers, lemon), and have been taking advantage of their relatively cheap cost. I have been 'poaching' the wings (aged one or two days in the reefer) briefly (3-4 minutes) in salted boiling water. I drain them and cool them at room temperature, then (easily) skin them. My query concerns how to fillet them to get what I interpret from recipe pictures - that is, it looks like a 'whole' wing fillet - beautifully floured, 'whole', and sauteed to a golden brown. What I get after my poaching is very nice flesh, barely cooked, but when I 'fillet' the flesh I do not get a whole 'fillet' - I get lots of segmented pieces. I have very successfully used these segments as the base for fried 'cod balls' or 'mixed fried seafood.' Do any of you professionals/mutual hedonists have guidance as to what I'm missing? I use very sharp knives, and have tried various times for the poaching. Is this perhaps similar to the difference concerning North American ducks and European Ducks, that is, there is a difference between the skates I get here in the US and elsewhere? (One cannot 'successfully' roast a whole North American duck versus a European duck because of excess fat - are 'local' skates different from European skates? Any and all inputs would be appreciated, as I really like the taste/appearance of skates.)

post #2 of 8
There aren't European and "local" skate. Atlantic skate is Atlantic skate. Pacific skate is a lighter color, and very slightly different.

Fillet it raw, and cook it. Or leave it on the bone and cook it. It's falling apart because you're poaching it, and flaking is what cooked fish does. Why are you cooking it twice? Once is enough.

Like most meats, you'll get best taste and texture cooked "on the bone" (or "on the cartilage" in this case), but that means messing with the cartilage on the plate. In any case, make up your mind before cooking.

post #3 of 8
BDL is right .
Why cook 2 times. Fish unlike meat gets tougher with to much cooking
Tell you one thing when I lived up North and went fishing we encountered skate, and boy do they put up a fight. They can also hurt you if you grab them wrong, the wings and spines get you.
P.S never heard of European skate
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the inputs - BTW, the 3-4 minutes I spend 'poaching' (I should have used another description) serves to easily skin the wing - the meat is still raw.
post #5 of 8
Still not necessary, though. If you can't just peel it off, skin with a knife. Or, if you prefer, drop it on a very hot grill for about 20-30 seconds, remove and drop in ice water, and peel. Skate is not difficult to skin -- peeling ought to work.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks Chris - I like the hot grill method a lot - much more direct and simpler.
post #7 of 8
No. The meat is cooked. It may not be cooked to your service preference, but it's no longer raw. The heat has made it more fragile, which is why it fell apart and occasioned your post.

Your difficulty skinning is probably caused by a less than sharp knife coupled with uncertain technique. (I know you said, "sharp," but we might mean different things. I mean SHARP.)

It's easier with almost all fish to fillet before skinning. Once filleted, place the fillet on your board, skin side down. Skate wings are roughly triangular. Start at the base of the triangle, and cut just enough to get the body of the knife between the skin and the flesh. Then, angle the edge of your knive very slightly down so you can just feel the board with the edge rather than the flat of blade. Hold the skin and wriggle the knife back and forth, meanwhile simultaneously pushing the blade forward toward the point of the wing while pulling the skin back to you. It sounds complicated, but it isn't.

Again with the sharp. Good fish work requires a very sharp knife of appropriate size and shape, without serration. It really makes all the difference.

post #8 of 8
Having filleted hundreds of walleyes and northern pike BDL's technique is right on. For some people it can be easier to wiggle the fish in the opposite direction the knife is going in but that's on a skinnier fillet.
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