Skate is a fish that is not very well known. Both its flavor and its texture are different than other fish. When prepared correctly, it is delicious. When overcooked, it is dry and stringy. The best way to prevent this is using a thermometer with a probe, to ensure that the skate is cooked exactly right. Oh and make sure the skate has been skinned by your fishmonger, because the skin is very tough and unpleasant.
I hadn’t prepared skate in a while, and in fact I hadn’t prepared it for at least four years as there is no mention of it on the blog (and the 4th anniversary of this blog is approaching quickly). I thought it would be nice to prepare it in Italian style, probably because I usually think it is nice to prepare everything in Italian style 😉 I cooked the skate in the oven with a crust of breadcrumbs, capers, olives, lemon zest, thyme and garlic. And since I was using the oven anyway, I decided to slow-roast some cauliflower to go with it. To complete the meal, I made some mashed potatoes. Also in Italian style, with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. It turned out to be a delicious meal. If you can get skate, you should prepare this too. You won’t regret it.
For 2 servings
1 skate, about 600 grams (1.3 lbs)
400 grams (.9 lb) cauliflower florets
500 grams (1.1 lb) potatoes
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 Tbsp black olives, preferably taggiasca from Liguria
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and dried, preferably salted capers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, untreated
4 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs
salt and freshly ground white pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Put 400 grams (.9 lb) cauliflower florets in an oven-proof dish. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and toss to mix. Roast in the oven for about half an hour.
Take the cauliflower out of the oven. Add about a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and toss to mix. Put the cauliflower back in the oven for another half an hour.
In the meantime, boil the potatoes in salted water.
When they are tender, drain them and then mash them with a generous glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Taste and add more salt and/or more olive oil if needed. Keep warm over very low heat.
Zest the lemon and combine the lemon zest with a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, a tablespoon of olives, a tablespoon of rinsed and dried capers, and a minced garlic clove.
Chop this mixture very finely.
Divide the skate into two portions. Rinse the skate with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground white pepper on both sides.
Combine the chopped flavors with 4 tablespoons of dried breadcrumbs.
Stir to mix, then add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Stir until the breadcrumbs and oil are well mixed.
Press the breadcrumb mixture in an even layer on both sides of the skate.
Arrange the skate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Insert the probe of an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the skate, such that the tip of the probe is roughly in the center.
Put the skate in the oven with the cauliflower, still at 180C/350F.
When the cauliflower is getting nicely golden brown…
…squeeze a bit of lemon juice on it, stir to mix, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Return the cauliflower to the oven while the skate is cooking, but be careful not to burn the cauliflower.
Roast the skate until it has reached a core temperature of 52C/125F, 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve the skate with the cauliflower and mashed potatoes on preheated plates.
This dish has a lot of flavor that needs a wine that can stand up to it, so a well-structured dry white like a Greco di Tufo or Fiano di Avellino would be an excellent choice.
Tuna tartare with runner bean ‘sea weed’ is a creative dish with yet another use for runner beans.