Sunday, 18 January 2009

Skate knobs with capers

Prior to The Great Lurgy (from which I am fully recovered, thankyou) I'd picked up a couple of interesting buys I was going to cook up and report on. They got transferred to the freezer but I thought I'd have a crack at them this weekend to alleviate the tedium of tackling my tax return.

The first was what are peculiarly called 'skate knobs' (don't snigger) the sweet little nuggets of fish you find by the bone of skate wings. They're a real delicacy which you never find in supermarkets, rarely in fishmongers and just occasionally on a market stall and they're amazingly cheap. I paid £3.82 for 700g, easily enough for three.

Offputtingly they smelt of ammonia when I opened the bag and I was just about to consign them to the bin when my husband, who has the memory of an elephant, remembered this was a common feature of skate. I checked with Jane Grigson's Fish Cookery and he was right (of course) so our meal went ahead as planned. (The smell dissipates on cooking.)

I did very little to them. I simply fried them for a couple of minutes in a mixture of olive oil and butter, add a small splosh of dry white wine, let it bubble up and reduce then added a couple of tablespoons each of chopped capers and parsley and heated the whole thing through. Total cooking time, 5 minutes. We had them with a few new potatoes and the first of the season's purple sprouting broccoli. A real feast.

They would also have been nice deep fried*, I think or in an upmarket fish pie with prawns. They have something of the taste of scampi or scallops but not quite the same firm texture. Do look out for them or see if your local fishmonger can get them for you.

(*Mark Hix of the Independent has a nice recipe here)

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