Raya con Avellanas

Skate with Hazelnuts and Lemon

The names we give fish determine their survival. Let me explain. We call shark ‘flake’ and as a result these fearsome predators of the deep are fast approaching annihilation off our coastal waters, because we are eating them faster than they can breed. If it were sold as shark no one would have ever eaten it. The reverse is true for the wonderful fish rather unflatteringly named ‘flathead’, making them sound more like a character from an Australian soap opera than a tasty fish. As a result, until very recently, they were a very cheap and highly underrated fish. So don’t tell a soul when I say that skate and stingray are the last bargains from the sea. The flesh is firm and moist, high in omega-3 fatty acids, the fish are abundant and a quarter of the price of our supermarket favourites and are very, very easy to cook.

This skate recipe contrasts the richness of butter and hazelnuts with the sharp taste of capers and lemons.

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Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) skinless skate or ray fillets, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick strips
  • plain (all-purpose) flour, to coat
  • fine sea salt
  • 100 ml ( fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • 165 g ( oz) butter, thinly sliced
  • 60 g ( oz) drained baby capers
  • 165 g ( oz) hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and very roughly chopped
  • 1 large handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly coat the fish with flour and season with sea salt.

Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium–high heat until the oil just starts to sizzle when a pinch of flour is sprinkled over the pan. Fry the skate, in two batches, on all sides until golden all over. This should take about 30 seconds on each side. Season the fish with sea salt while cooking.

Put the pan in the oven for 8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Transfer the fish onto a warmed plate, loosely cover with paper towel then foil and keep close to the hot oven or stovetop to keep warm.

Discard the oil in the pan and return the pan to the stovetop over medium–high heat. When hot, drop the butter into the pan. When the butter is thoroughly foaming, add the capers, hazelnuts and most of the parsley and fry for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice. The sauce should be foaming and bubbling but not too dark. Season to taste with salt.

Place the fish onto a warmed serving plate and pour over the sauce. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve with lemon wedges.