Skate with Clams, Leek, Potatoes and Celery

2 Mar

When I was growing up, my Mum used to make a lot of potato-leek soup. Something about the mixture of sweet, mildly garlicky leeks paired with the comfort-factor of potatoes just works. In this dish, I used potatoes and leeks as the base of a skate dish. Access to clams, cockles and the like were sometimes limited during the war because of defensive mining along the coast. They weren’t rationed, but could be tough to get hold of. This dish would work just as well without them, but I like the briny flavor and juicy texture of clams against the other elements in this dish. Celery is so under-rated as a vegetable. It has a great crunch when raw but I’ve also come to really enjoy it lightly cooked. In this recipe, I just sliced right through the celery stalks on the bias and tossed them into the vegetable mixture about 2 minutes from the end. They still had a slight crunch to them.

Of course, bivalves had kind of a bad association in peoples’ minds during World War II. Limpet mines were developed by the British navy to attach to enemy naval vessels using magnets, and a version for land use, clam mines, were later developed by the Brits too.

Skate with Clams, Leek, Potatoes and Celery

3 Servings

1 Idaho potato, or other thick-skinned variety, peeled and cut into batons
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
3 slices onion
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 leek, cut into batons, green section only
2 stalks celery, cut on the bias (reserve celery leaves)
6 clams (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 skate wing, cut into 3 servings along the lines of the flesh

Put the potato batons into a small pot of water and bring to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until 90 percent cooked-through, then strain and set aside. Heat 1/2 the bacon drippings in a sauté pan. Add the onions and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic slices and cook through. Then add the leek, celery, clams and broth and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer then cover until the clams steam open. While the vegetables and clams are cooking, heat another sauté pan over a high heat with the remaining bacon drippings. Take the 3 skate portions and salt them, then sear in the hot bacon drippings until the first side is golden. Flip the fish portions over carefully using a fish spatula, and being sure to slide the spatula under the fish in the same direction as the natural stripes of skate flesh to avoid breaking up the skate portions. Cook on the other side until cooked through, then remove the fish from the pan and rest for 2 minutes. Carefully remove the clams from the vegetable pan and set them aside, Spoon the vegetable and broth mixture into the bottom of 3 large bowls. Top each vegetable portion with a skate portion. Add the clams to the bowls, and garnish everything with the celery leaves.


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