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Skate with Tarragon Dressing

Skate are related to sharks and sting rays. They have a kite-shaped body with a long tail, and are usually very large. Fishmongers rarely display skate whole, preferring to skin and joint them. It is always best to
get the fishmonger to skin the fish for you, as it is easier to cook. Skate is never cooked when it is absolutely fresh, as a glutinous coating sticks to the skin for a few hours after it has been caught. Once poached in a little water with wine or vinegar, however, this coating is removed. Sometimes small nuggets of tail flesh called 'skate nobs' are available from fishmongers, which can be floured and fried in butter, but it is the ribbed wings that are considered to be the best part. The French consider skate wings to be a great delicacy, and they have a famous recipe called 'Raie au Beurre Noir', in which the fish is lightly seasoned and simply cooked in golden-brown butter. The tarragon and lemon dressing in this recipe provides an exciting alternative.
Preparation time : 15 minutes,
Cooking time : 15-20 minutes,
Calories per serving: 415

ingredients

serves 4
1 large skinned skate wing weighing approximately 2 lb (900 g)
4 fl oz (115 ml) dry white wine or vermouth
1/2 lemon
1 small onion
3 tarragon stalks
6 peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 sprigs tarragon for garnish

for the dressing

1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 lemon
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 dashes tabasco
1 generous pinch caster sugar

method

1. Rinse the skate under cold water and pat dry. Cut into 4 evenly sized portions.

2. Pour 6 fl oz (175 ml) of water and the wine, or vermouth, into a pan large enough to hold the skate. Cut off the rind from half a lemon in large strips, avoiding as much pith as possible, and squeeze the juice into a bowl.

3. Peel, chop and quarter the onion. Add the lemon rind and juice, onion, tarragon stalks, peppercorns and salt to the pan, and bring slowly to the boil.

4. Add the pieces of skate, cover the pan and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the skate is cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, finely chop the tarragon and squeeze all the juice out of the lemon. Then combine all the remaining ingredients for the dressing in a small pan and heat gently for 2 - 3 minutes and whisk thoroughly.

6. Lift the skate out of the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving all the strips of lemon peel behind. Arrange the skate on a serving plate, spoon over the dressing, garnish with tarragon sprigs and serve immediately.

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