Chilled Skate Salad
"In general, I enjoy chilled seafood salads because they allow you to do the work ahead of time. When your guests start to arrive, you can actually sit down and enjoy their company, rather than run back and forth, worrying about creating the dish," says Ben Pollinger, executive chef of Oceana in New York City. "Generally, people think of chilled seafood salads in terms of shellfish—lobster, shrimp, scallops. People don't usually think of using fish unless it's smoked. I chose to use skate for this recipe because it is full-flavored, and it's a nod to classic French cuisine. I chose to complement the fish with zucchini because I was looking for something healthy, and in the summer, there's such an abundance of zucchini that I wanted to do more than just the typical throw on-the-grill preparation."
Pollinger says skate presents a challenge because its unique structure makes it difficult to remove the raw meat from the bone-like cartilage. Steaming solves this problem because once cooked, the meat comes right off. You can also buy skate fillets cleaned of skin and cartilage, but get it on the "bone," if you can: Some of the cartilage melts as it cooks, adding flavor to the meat. This is a great cold lunch dish—light but with a lot of flavor.
- 1 2-lb skin-on skate wing on the bone, trimmed of the frilly cartilage that edges the outer 1 inch, or 1 lb boneless, skinless skate fillet (2 pieces)
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large zucchini, trimmed, sliced into thin rounds (preferably on a Japanese mandolin; about 3 cups)
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp juice)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp gently packed slivered fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tbsp gently packed slivered Italian parsley leaves
- warm baguette, for serving
On a plate or a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle the skate on both sides with salt and pepper. Let stand five minutes to allow the seasonings to penetrate.
Bring about one inch water to a boil in a steamer pot large enough to hold the skate in a single layer. If the skate is on the bone, place the skate in the steamer basket over the boiling water, cover and steam 20 minutes. If using fillets, fold each into thirds and steam six minutes. Remove from the steamer to a plate with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
For skate steamed on the bone, peel the skin off one side of the chilled meat with your fingers. Slide a butter knife between the meat and the cartilage to loosen the meat, then use the knife to slide the meat off. Flip the skate and repeat the process on the other side. Flake into long strips into a bowl with a fork or fingers. If working with fillets, simply flake with a fork or your fingers. Refrigerate, covered.
In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, the oregano, and parsley. Toss well to coat the zucchini. Let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Gently fold the flaked skate into the zucchini mixture. Divide among four serving plates. Serve with a warm baguette to sop up the vinaigrette.