Skates and rays are a large group of fish that are caught worldwide. They can be of a considerable size with a flat body, large fins and a long whip-like tail, although the appearance of different varieties will differ. Skate is the ‘wings’ or fins of a cartilaginous flatfish. The meat has a distinctive taste and fibrous texture.
Skate is at its best bought between May and February, however there are serious concerns about overfishing. Marine experts recommend avoiding skate until stocks recover.
Skate can be bought as wings and skate ‘nobs’ (pieces of muscle removed from the back and tail) that are ready-skinned and need no further preparation. The wings can be poached in acidulated water until the piece of cartilage at the thick end of the wing pulls away easily. Pan-frying and roasting are also good methods of cooking. Classic skate recipes include Skate with black butter (beurre noir) and capers.