Skate are a bottom dwelling fish. They have cartilage instead of bones, just like their relative, the shark. Skate are shaped like a kite and are typically brown/gray in color. Some skate are solid in color, while others have patterns. Their large pectoral fins, often referred to as wings, are made up of several strips of meaty flesh separated by cartilage. Their mouths and gills are located on the underside of its body. All skates lay eggs. These eggs are called mermaid’s purses and are found along beaches. They are oblong in shape with a leathery casing that protects them. On average, you will see commercial skate weigh in around 8-10lbs whole, but they can reach an upwards of 200 pounds!
In terms of culinary profile and preparation, the skin on skate is tough and inedible. They have a mild flavor, a firm flesh and high collagen content. Their flesh is beige to pink in color, but when cooked it becomes off-white. One thing you want to avoid while cooking skate is over cooking. This makes for a tough meat that breaks easy. When cooking skate, the only part of their body (that happens to make up the vast majority of themselves) is their wings. Skate wings can take on a variety of flavors. Poached in butter, steamed, grilled, pan fried, breaded with corn meal and fried, crusted with bread crumbs and nuts, the options are truly limitless!
Harbor Fish Market is hosting our ‘Cutting Board Series’, with many demo dates coming up. Don’t miss our skate wing demo and recipe card coming soon! It’s a great opportunity to try a delicious and under-utilized species. Check out our Facebook Page for updates and more information.