A skate is one of the more commonly found fishes in the North Atlantic region. The fish has both delicate and firm parts in it. If the other fishes have the part present near the bone structure as the edible portion, then the skates have the skin near the fins of the fish as the edible portion. One needs to possess a very strong skill set to clean these kinds of fish. There are a lot of instances where the spikes of the fish have hurt the fingers of those who are cleaning the fish. It is a very sharp pain that creates a very strong sensation to the nervous region of the body.
Basic Details of a Skate
More or less, a skate looks like a cross between the stingray and the normal variety of fish. The pectoral fins of the fish are too large that it resembles a wing. The outer skin of the fish has a very shiny and leathery sort of appearance.
Though the fish falls into a family of three different genera, the most common one among them is Rajidae. The thorn-like structure is on the upper surface of the fish body whereas the lower surface of the body of the fish has the gills and nose. Skates are known to lay eggs. A skate looks like a mermaid’s purse and has a very shiny outer appearance. The size of the skates varies much.
The body structure of the fish makes it very much adaptive to live on the ocean floor. A skate has a flat body structure which makes it rest on the ground. There are openings on the top area of the fish via which the fish receives oxygenated water and it can breathe freely without having to depend on the oxygen it has to receive from the ocean floor. The pectoral fins help the fish to propel forward.
Different Types of Skates
The following are the common types of skates. Though there are many varieties of skates, the common types are listed below.
- Clear Nose Skate
This is a type of skate and is found on the Northeastern coast of the USA. This is a very rare type of species and it looks more or less similar to the name, you can see the other side through the nostrils of the fish.
- Common Skate
The common skates are not so common. It is also found in the coastal region of the USA. The fish has been listed under the critically endangered species of the IUCN.
- Spotted Skate
The name of the fish clearly shows that there are a lot of spots in the dorsal region of the fish. The fish uses this feature as a camouflage to hide and then attack its prey.
- Undulate Ray
Just like the name suggests, the fish is said to move in a very undulated manner. It moves along with the wave patterns created in the sea. And, this species as well has been designated as endangered.
Where Are Skates Found and How Are They Distributed?
The shape of the skates is diamond-like. The skates are either plain in color or they can even be patterned. The skates are facing a lot of issues like population decline. As they do not reproduce in a very rapid manner, they are facing a lot of problems within their habitat itself. They are marked as endangered and as species that has to be conserved very carefully by various environment conservationist organizations all over the world. Also, the eggs take about 15 months to hatch. It has a very long generation period.
It is one of the most popular foods in the Northwestern part of the U.S. and it is also found in regions of Europe and the seas of Mediterranean.
The fish was marked as an endangered species in the year 2000 and from the year 2006 onwards, the fish was marked as a critically endangered species. Unfortunately, a skate is facing extinction because many commercial fishing companies have fished in large numbers and the numbers have dwindled significantly. Also, the number of fishes has fallen due to by-catch as well. By-catch happens when larger size fishes are being caught and the smaller size fishes also get stuck in the net. Pollution is also stated as another major factor as to why the fish numbers are falling drastically.
The smallest size of the fish variety is also known as a hedgehog is only about 50 to 54 cms. Whereas the other kinds of the size which are either in the mid-range or in the large size range are more than 250 cms in size. Though the skates look very much similar to a stingray, the major difference is that the electric substance which is emitted by the fins of the fish. The fish feeds on the living organisms of the sea like mollusks and other small variety of fishes which are found in the sea.
Certain species of the fish can reside in the shallow waters and some can reside in the deeper waters of the Arctic sea as well. It is indeed a shocking fact but there are about 150 species of the fish found in the sea. The fish has a kind of weird shape, it is both flat and wide at the same time. It more or less looks like a fat person has sat on top of the fish and has made it very flat. The skate fish is harvested mostly for their wings. They are in no way harmful to human beings. They are also used as lobster bait and they are also used to make fish feed for the fishes which are grown in the tanks at home.
What does a Skate Eat?
Before you consume certain fish, you need to understand what kind of food the fish feeds on. The skate fish is carnivores in nature. It feeds on shellfish, crabs, and other tiny varieties of fish. There are other kinds of a larger type of fish that consume the larger size fish as well.
As the skate fish doesn’t have teeth in the front and instead, it has a flat plate-like structure, it becomes very easy for the fish to crunch and eat the shell-like structures.
Can You Eat a Skate Fish?
Yes, the wings of the skate are edible. The fish doesn’t have bones but it does have a very strong cartilage. So, you can use the wings in soups and other items which are specially made for children. Eating a skate has grown in popularity over the years and has become very popular option in Chinese soups. A skate has a mild fishy taste and resembles a taste similar to that of a shellfish.
How to Clean & Fillet a Skate
Cleaning a skate is not a very painstaking process as the fish doesn’t have any bones. You need to make use of pliers to pull the upper portion and the lower portion of the skin. You need to rest the fish on the cutting board with the spikes facing upwards. So, while you are using the pliers to remove the upper skin, you need to be extra careful.
If you don’t possess the necessary pliers, then you need to make use of a knife to clean the fish. Just like how you clean the fish using the pliers, you need to follow the same procedure as well while using a knife.
Also, when you place the fish on the board to cut, you need to make sure that the spiny region of the fish lies facing downwards as it might harm your fingers.
You just have to make a horizontal cut on the surface of the fish. You need to start sliding downwards the body of the fish and start removing the skin of the fish.
You don’t have to cut the fish into fillets as you cook the fish, it becomes very tender and when you use a knife to cut and eat the fish, it comes out silver after silver.
If you cut the fish too much, then it breaks down into pieces very easily. The first and foremost thing you get to notice when you clean the fish is the amount of waste that gets produced when you clean. As they live in all kinds of habitats, the body structure of the fish has been structured in such a way that there are a lot of bones in it. The number of bones that hold the wings of the fish is way too much and you can get to see it when you clean the fish.
There are too many connective tissues that make the fish very fleshy in texture. Also, the living habitat and the diet consist of a lot of dirt and mud in it, so when you clean, you can find much brown color substance oozing out of it.
If you still wish to cut the fish into fillets, then you can use a large size cookie cutter to make round pieces of the fish.
You need to wash the fish over and over again to make sure the fish is free of impurities.
It is very easy to cook the skate fish as it is very tender in size. Also, you can incorporate various methods to cook the fish due to the structure.
How to Cook a Skate
- Preheat the oven to about 450 degrees Celsius. You need to place fish on the baking tray where cooking oil is sprayed and the baking sheet is spread.
- You can use whichever spices you desire to cook the fish.
- You need to set the timer and open the oven, turn over the fish.
- Brush some oil and then bake.
It tastes very great when you serve it along with a very tangy sauce and some sautéed veggies.
If you fish to crunch on something which is overtly fried and not too fried, then you need to go for the Pan Fry method.
- You have to prepare a paste of egg white, cornflour, and another type of flour that can be used for coating the fish.
- You need to dip the fish in the batter you have prepared. You can also use spices if you desire.
- Spray some oil on the pan and place some fish on it. You need to start frying the fish until it gets slightly crispy.
Placing the fish from the source of heat at least more than half the distance required is known as broiling.
As you broil, you can see a lot of stock coming out of the fish and you can use it for cooking the other fish dishes.
You need to place the fish on the grill after creating the right kind and amount of heat.
It is better if the heat source is charcoal fired as the smell of the charcoal gets deposited on the fish in a very excellent manner.
You also need to spray the right amount of oil on the fish to make it very juicy in texture.
You need to place the fish in a pan and then cover it with a lid to create a poached egg feel.
You need to drop the fish fillets in the oil after coating the fish fillets with the batter that has the right amount of spices in it.
You need to keep in mind that you should not overcook the fish to retain its flavor and also it should not break down.
The color of the uncooked fish varies from beige to pink color whereas the cooked fish looks off white. The one major thing which you need to look for is whether the fish smells of ammonia when you cook it. To learn more about recommended preparations for Skate, check out Seafoods.com.
Good Sides to Serve With a Skate Fish
Potatoes either in the fried form if the fish is baked or potatoes in the baked form if the fish is fried is an excellent combination.
You can make a stock of veggies and place it beside the skate fish.
Stuffed capsicum, creamy kale are also excellent sides for fish.
What are the Health Benefits from Eating a Skate?
There are a plethora of health benefits when you consume fish such as a Skate. Vitamin B12 improves your mental health whereas Phosphorus contributes to the growth of cells in the body. Also, if you wish to have healthy shiny hair, then the significant amount of Vitamin B6 present in the fish aids a lot. According to studies, eating a Skate can improve your immune system, make you feel less tired, and can also plays a very vital role in curing and preventing cancer.