Last week I wandered into Whole Foods in Fresh Pond on my way to teach at CSCA.
I strolled through the vegetables desperately seeking some ramps, which they didn't have, and fresh broad beans, which they did.
My favourite thing to have with fresh broad beans is fish so after filling a bag with the lovely fuzzy green pods I wandered over to the fish counter.
The fishmonger was pulling some gorgeous skate wing out of a fish tub and laying it in the case.
I'd only ever had skate once before at a now defunct restaurant in Cambridge called 'Chameleon' back in the early 90's and I could still remember what it tasted like and how much I loved it. Unfortunately I haven't seen it in the fish market for years.
I asked him if the cartilage had already been removed, it had, and then I glanced down at the price in the case expecting to see the usual Whole Paycheck price of $15.99 to $19.99, but no....the skate was on 'Special' for $5.99 a pound.
I blinked once, blinked twice, moved left and right around the sign to be sure that I wasn't missing the 1 in front of the 5 and when I had confirmed that it wasn't an illusion I asked that man for a lovely piece ASAP!
I had assumed that I would do the common preparation of a beurre noisette (literally hazelnut butter) and a side of those lovely broad beans cooked and drizzled with sea salt and extra virgin oil but then I recalled seeing a possible recipe for skate as I was flicking through Anthony Bourdain's 'Les Halles' cookbook that week while searching for recipes to round out my class on French food for my cac kids. When I got home I grabbed the book and flicked through until I found it.
A la Grenobloise or in the style of Grenobole, means a preparation of brown butter, capers, parsley, lemon juice and lemon meats with tiny croutons. It comes from the town of Grenoble in the Dauphine region of France and is served traditionally with the trout that are abundant in the Alps.
This is such a quick and simple preparation you can make this on a weeknight in less than 30 minutes. Have your side dishes, whatever they may be, ready before you begin.
Mise en place or gather all your ingredients carefully and have the plates warming before you start.
You will need the following;
5 TBS butter divided
2 TBS capers
flour (for dredging)
1 to 2 TBS Parsley finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon skin cut off with a paring knife and lemon segments removed
Some lovely freshly made croutons
salt and pepper
For the Croutons
Take a 4 - 5 inch length of French Bread, slice in half lengthwise. With a serrated knife remove most of the crust. Slice into small croutons and saute them with 1 TBS of butter until the are crisp on all sides. Remove from the pan and reserve.
For the Fish
Heat 1 TBS butter in the pan.
Season the fish with salt and pepper, dredge, lightly, in the flour, shake off excess, salt and pepper the fish again.
Once the foam of the butter subsides add the skate. Cook 2 minutes.
Add 1 more TBS butter, turn fish, cook 2 minutes more.
Pull the fish and place on warm plate tented with foil.
Clean the pan out with paper towels and add the last 2 TBS butter.
Once the foaming subsides, add the capers and lemon juice.
Cook 1 minute, add lemon segments and croutons and toss a few times to warm.
Add parsley, turn off the heat, pour sauce over the fish.
I am soooo addicted. I've had it twice more since.
The preparation you see above is served with butter beans sauteed in olive oil with red onion and sprinkle with Valbresso Feta and I was out of parsely so there is none in there, as Julia once said, never let not having an ingredient stop you from making a dish.
Skate is such a delicate fish with a sweet taste redolent of crab or lobster meat. For that price it is going to be appearing a lot more around this house.
Do try it. Go on.