Tag Archives: Skate

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.


You are a fish person, I promise!

14 Jan

I never understood why some people don’t like fish. Especially fish like skate, which lack that “fishiness” folks seem to taste in mackerel and sardines. Skate’s delicate flesh and almost buttery texture lend themselves well to bitter-sweet flavor profiles. In this recipe, I threw together sweet currants and apples, with a bit of tart red currant jelly, the bite of red wine vinegar, and some bitter radicchio (what we call chicory in Britain) for a balanced finish.

Fish was one of the few foods not rationed in World War II Britain, so fish like skate were readily available in most areas. Eventually the price for fish went up, given the risk   

fishermen were taking to collect their catch, and the scarcity of protein in Britain. But it was never as controlled as meat, so it made a fairly cheap protein option for large families like my Granny’s. She quite fancies a bit of fish, she does. Smart lady.

Skate Wing with Sautéed Radicchio, Currants, Apples and Onions

2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1/2 large onion, sliced paper thin
1/3 radicchio, thinly sliced
1/2 apple, cut into batons
1 tablespoon currants
1 teaspoon red currant jelly
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 skate wing, removed from the bone.
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped parsley
Heat the bacon drippings in a large sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and sweat them. When they start to brown a little, lower the heat to medium and add the salt. Continue to heat until the onions are completely wilted and golden brown. Remove from the pan. In the same pan, wilt the radicchio and add the apple and currants. Sauté them all together, seasoning with salt and adding a splash of water to prevent burning. When cooked, add the onions, red currant jelly and vinegar. Mix well, then remove the whole mixture from the pan to a plate. Clean the sauté pan, and return it to a medium to high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat it until it shimmers. Season the skate with salt and pepper and sear it on one side. VERY carefully, using a fish spatula, or other large offset spatula, flip the skate wing to sear the other side. Be sure when you slide the spatula under the fish to move the spatula in the direction of the strips of flesh on the skate wing – if you go parallel to them, you will break up the fish and end up with a pile of mushy strips of fish. Not appetizing.

Remove the fish from the sauté pan and allow to rest for 1 minute. Serve with the radicchio mixture and garnish with parsley.

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