Thursday, January 12, 2012

Skate Steak!

Skates are a member of the Ray family

I'm not sure that I've ever had skate before. I know I've never cooked it. What's nice about it is that the surface of skate filets have folds like an accordian.  Rays and skates areflattened fish that are closely related to sharks - they have cartiledge instead of bones.

Skate's accordian-like texture works well with breadcrumbs

When you dip the fish in flour, egg white and breadcrumbs, the mixture goes into the little folds and you get a really nice crunchy texture.

There are many different types of skate - but in each case the edible part is the wing.  Some of the more than 200 species of the fish have been vulnerable to overfishing in certain parts of the world.  Safeguards have been put in place to protect the more endangered skates.   Two of the non-endangered species, the Winter Skate and the Thorny Skate, are what most of us find at our local fish monger. Skates can be found from shallow waters along the coast to depths of 2,000 feet or more. Although they are not known to undertake large-scale migrations, they are thought to move offshore during the summer and fall, and inshore during the winter and spring. Although many people may not have seen a whole skate, they may be familiar with their hard, dark, leathery egg cases called "mermaid's or sailor's purses" which can be found washed up on beaches on Long Island and in other coastal areas.

Skate ready for prep

I was surprised at how hardy and thick the skate filet (or wing) was when I took it out of the wrapping.  I paid just over $6 for this piece and I ended up cutting it in half and freezing one half because I knew I'd never finish this large a portion. 

Dredge through flour, egg white and panko

After drying the skate wing thoroughly in paper towels, I dredge it through flour, egg white and panko (Japanese bread crumbs - you can use regular bread crumbs if you prefer, but panko has better texture - almost like Rice Crispies).  I use just the egg whites and not the whole egg because it's just so the panko will stick - no need for the extra fat, cholesterol and calories found in the egg yolk. 

Hardy skate steak

Be sure to leave the skate on your counter for a half hour of so before cooking so it's at room temperature.  Pre-heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  You can multi-task and have the pan heating while you prepare the skate wing.

Sauté in hot oil

Saute for 3 - 4 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the skate.  You can tip the side of the fish with a spatula to check on its progress - flip when it turns golden brown.

Perfect char

The panko mixture spread evenly throughout the accordian-like surface of the skate.  I really liked it, but do consider that there's cartiledge to maneuver around.  You carefully extract the flesh between the cartiledge - it's not like eating a piece of salmon or bass.  But I liked it - it's something different.

Low fat tartar sauce and lemon on the side

The crunchy surface just begged for a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  I made a low-fat tartar sauce to serve on the side - recipe to follow, but it's non-fat Greek yogurt, shallots, lemon and mustard.

Roasted asparagus on the side

Et viola!

Some night soon, "skate" into your kitchen and give this dish a spin.


1/2 pound skate steak per person
1/2 cup flour
1 egg white per steak
3/4 cup panko or regular breadcrumbs (I like the plain, non-flavored bread crumbs)
1 tbsn extra virgin olive oil
1 pad butter (about 1 tspn)
Juice of 1/2 lemon


Allow skate to come to room temperature, wrapped in paper towels to dry throughly
Pre-heat non-stick skillet over medium heat
Place flour in one plate, egg white in a bowl and panko in a third plate
Dredge skate through flour, egg white and panko, making sure it's well covered in panko
Add olive oil to pan - allow to heat
Add butter to pan
Carefully place skate in the pan with hot oil
Cook 3 - 4 minutes on each side until golden brown
Serve immediately and enjoy

I served with roasted asparagus, tomato and lemon

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