Skate with Lemon and Olives
Updated: Apr 6
Until perhaps a year or so ago, I wouldn't buy skate with its skin still on. I thought it could only be cooked skinless. And when the team on the stall described how you needed nails, pliers, hammers etc. to remove the skin I was no more encouraged. It's not that I was firmly planted in the "Raie au Buerre Noir" (Skate with Black Butter) mindset, which requires the skate to be skinned before being pan-fried. To the contrary, I already had a favoured recipe which required the skate to be poached. As soon as I was made aware that, once a piece of skate has been poached, the skin comes away easily with nothing more than a table knife (even a spoon!), I tried that recipe and got a great result. But it is not that recipe here.
The facts are that first, skate poaches beautifully, but can be over-cooked. Second, the skin protects the flesh in the cooking process and contributes its flavour without having to be eaten. Third, skate is an excellent fish for the bone-shy (it doesn't contain any bones). And last, unskinned skate is extremely good value!
The one thing to be aware of is that, whereas with many varieties of fish, aging can bring about a smell of ammonia, this happens particularly quickly with cartilaginous fish, of which skate is one (see link). Huss is another. It happens to crab quite quickly as well. So the key is to buy it fresh and eat it soon after. We are lucky in having such a good source.
One of my favourite Moroccan "tagines" is chicken with preserved lemons and green olives. So, being all too aware what a great combination these ingredients come to make, I was delighted to find this recipe (link below).
Preserved lemons have a particular flavour that cannot be substituted for by raw lemons. Thankfully they are readily available (see link), but better still, they are extremely easy to make at home and I always have a jar of them to hand. Just make sure to use unwaxed lemons.
No quantities given for this one. Put as much or as little as you like.
Skate with Lemon and Olives
Skate wings, skinned or unskinned, cut into individual portions
Preserved lemon, peel only
Green olives, stoned
Flat leaf parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
Chop the preserved lemon, the green olives and the parsley together and put in a bowl. Add the olive oil, the lemon juice and black pepper to taste, and combine.
Poach the skate wings in water, or even better, a court bouillon for about 8-10 minutes depending on size.
While the skate is poaching, warm the lemon and olive mixture in a saucepan. This is not essential.
Remove the skate wings from the poaching liquid and drain. If the skate wings were unskinned then scrape away the skin. Put on the plate and dress with the lemon and olive "sauce".
Skate with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives (Hout Bil Laymoun M'Rakade Wal Zeytoun): https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/skate-with-preserved-lemon-and-green-olives-hout-bil-laymoun-mrakade-wal-zeytoun
Preserved lemons: https://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Belazu-Preserved-Beldi-Pickled-Lemons/35681011?&ULP_CAMPAIGN_ID=104&gclid=CjwKCAjw0ZfoBRB4EiwASUMdYXFP6ItphDADT4TPNhNHACaUNq1KA_jwLPSK3h1nT4AZXw7Q8iNncRoC9bkQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds