Skate Putanesca

Posted on May 23rd, by Frank Mirando in Round & Flat Fish, Spring. 10 comments


Who said you can’t eat skate?  Everyone I’ve ever fished with has said it and will cringe at the thought of catching this alien like creature.  Actually most fishermen know if you start pulling up skate, you can bet the house there are no other fish around!  Well…this is what happened to me last weekend on my first trip of the season.  We were looking for the prize of the Moriches Inlet Striped Bass, but found only Skate.  We hit a whole family of them, one after another and I thought to myself if this is what the seas give us, then I’ll take it.  After all I always love a cheap cut, or weird type of meat to experiment with.  There was ridiculous amount of skate in the cooler, nobody even cared to count but I was exited thinking about all the applications I would play with.  The mate Chris Cut the wings off and skinned them for me like the pro that he is.  He made it look so easy in fact I asked him to keep a few whole for myself so I can butcher them.   Let me tell you, it was not easy at all.  The skin is grossly thick on both sides of the Skate and the top had little spines all over giving it a sand paper texture.  Covered with slime it was very difficult to handle so I used a whole roll of paper towels to grip it while I skinned it.  Trust me If you happen to catch skate, have the mate do the hard work.  Once you have the wings cleaned this meat can compete with any sole or flat fish like flounder all day.  As a matter of fact Skate is showing up on menus at the best restaurants around the country and I now know why.

Putanesca has a mysterious, provocative and some might think offensive translation.  ”In the style of a call girl.”  Maybe they seduced their customers with the wonderful smell of a tomato sauce with fresh seafood, capers and olives and then got down to business.  Or maybe its all bull shit but food is always more fun with a story behind its origins.  Here is a recipe for a classic Putanesca tomato sauce.  You can substitute the skate with any fish.

  • 1 Can San Marzano peeled Tomato (crushed by hand)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (sliced thin)
  • 1 medium onion (diced finely)
  • a hand full of black cured olives (de-pitted)
  • 2 tbs salted capers (rinsed and soaked in warm water for 15 min)
  • 1 small bunch of Italian parsley
  • Hot pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Skate wings
  • 1 lb Spaghetti
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  In a large pan over medium heat add olive oil onion and garlic and saute until they get soft but not brown.  Add olives capers, hot pepper and toast for a minute.  Bring heat up to medium-high and add the tomatoes.  Slosh a 1/2 cup of water around the bowl you crushed them in collecting all the tomato pulp and add to the pan. Bring to a boil add salt and simmer for 10 min.  Season skate with salt and pepper and add to the pan.  Poach skate for 5-10 min or until it starts to pull away from the cartilage that runs through the center of the skate wing.  Drop the pasta in the boiling water and salt it like the sea.  Remove the wings from the sauce, scrape off all of the meat and discard any cartilage, return clean meat to the sauce.  Once pasta is cooked al dente, transfer to the pot of sauce with tongs.  Add a few spoon fulls of pasta water and cook for an additional 30 seconds over low heat.  Serve immediately.

10 Responses to “Skate Putanesca”

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  5. Nick Mendoza says:

    Hey Frank,

    I havent tried skate with pasta before, im sure it must be delicious since ive cooked using it before. Skate is hard to find here in California, I havent seen them in the fish markets here, i was expecting to see it in Asian markets, but no luck. I grew up partly here and partly in the Philippines. I usually use it when i cook certain vegetables the most common i see here is string beans, but i also use it with taro leaves or unripe jackfruit cooked in coconut milk and shrimp paste. The meatiness of the skate with the other ingredients just come together. Ill try your pasta dish if ever i find some skate around here or if ever i go on vacation in the Philippines, where you could get everything fresh from the market.

    • Nick that sounds really good! I need to learn much more about asian pacific cooking. Dude I just used scate because thats what I caught that day. U can use any fish in this recipe.

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