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The Fish Market

Discover the Delicate Taste of Skate

February 13, 1986|PAUL JOHNSON and ISAAC CRONIN | Cronin and Johnson are co-authors of "The California Seafood Cookbook."

Skates and rays, which are closely related, are found in all the seas of the world and are popular in many cuisines.

The delicate meat of the skate, which is white with red mottling on one side, is firm, white and tasty. Rib-like cords constitute the structure of the meat, which is somewhat fragile. Skate can be grilled or deep-fried in batter if handled carefully. Like flank steak it can be stuffed, rolled and baked or braised.

Skate, like shark, sometimes requires special treatment to realize its full potential. The skates are very primitive biologically, storing some uric acid in their flesh to maintain a proper osmotic balance. Upon death the uric acid in the skate will sometimes develop an ammonia smell. To rid skate rays and sharks of any ammoniated smell or flavor, before cooking, soak the meat in acidulated water (one cup vinegar to one gallon water) for 30 minutes.

POACHED SKATE WITH TOMATO VINAIGRETTE

1 pound skate

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 to 6 sprigs parsley

4 black peppercorns

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped black olives

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/4 cup finely chopped tomato

Pepper

Lettuce

Place skate in pot large enough to hold fish fully extended. Add water to cover, then remove skate. Add lemon juice, parsley and peppercorns to pan and bring to slow simmer. Carefully return skate to pan and cook until done, 2 to 3 minutes. (Overcooking will cause skate to fall apart.) Allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, combine oil, vinegar, olives, chopped parsley, tomato and pepper to taste. Serve skate on bed of lettuce topped with vinaigrette. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

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