Tuesday, May 12, 2009

#141 Warm Skate Salad with Shaun Hill's Dressing

Another fish dish. Skate is one of my favourite fish and liked the idea of having it in warm salad – perfect for this time of year when the weather is often bright and sunny but will a chill still in the air. Classically, skate is poached or fried and served with either a beurre noisette or capers, so I thought having it in strips with warm vinaigrette would be a new thing that might jazz up this tasty, though bland, fish.

Start off by preparing your skate wings (one per person). Rinse each one under the tap or soak in a change or two of water – take heed of this advice, this gets rid of the taste of ammonia found in fresh skate. I didn’t know this, even though I’ve cooked it many times, it’s never been ponged of ammonia. However, this time it was different (for one of us anyway!). Dry the wings and fry them in a little olive oil until cooked through – a few minutes a side, you can tell they’re cooked as the flesh starts to raise itself up from the cartilaginous bones. Whilst you are waiting, wash and dry some green salad leaves (I used watercress to be seasonal) and place a pile of them in the centre of each plate.

Now make the dressing. Set up a bowl over some simmering water. Add three tablespoons of fish stock and around 6 tablespoons of olive oil to the bowl. Chop up a handful of parsley leaves with a shallot and a small clove of garlic. Add this and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Remove the cooked skate from the pan and strip the meat of the wings with a fork. Pile the stripped fish on the salad leaves and sprinkle the whole thing with the dressing. Do this for each plate. Serve immediately.

FYI: Shaun Hill is still a chef, working at The Walnut Tree Inn in Wales. Here’s an article about him.

#141 Warm Skate Salad with Shaun Hill’s Dressing – 5/10. What a weird dish this turned out to be. None of the ingredients were bad , they just didn’t do together. The skate was nice and moist and gelatinous, but it’s delicate flavour was completely drowned out by the dressing with its strong garlic, shallot and olive flavours –delicious that it was. The ammonia was a cause for concern – it obviously doesn’t happen every time one cooks it, otherwise I’d have noticed before, but it’s worth bearing in mind in the future. Overall, I prefer my skate the old-fashioned way… Skate was very popular, but recipes like this won’t be doing it many favours in making it popular again.

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