Skate wings as sold in fishmongers or the fish and chip shops in the UK are not actually skate at all but mostly thornback rays.
Thornback rays are members of the wider skate family and are the most abundant ray variety caught in UK waters. Along with undulate, blonde and small-eyed rays, we catch them regularly from both the beach and boats all year round.
A long flowing trace fished hard on the bottom using mackerel or bluey for bait seems to work best.
You can find out more information about the sustainability of thornback rays can be found here.
The ray’s larger cousin, the common skate, was heavily overfished and is now on the red list for endangered species. Although still caught in Scotland and the west coast of Ireland by boat anglers, they are catch and release sometimes with a tag to improve our knowledge of its habits.
After catching our ray it’s time to prepare and skin the fish ready for the table. A good guide to doing this is on YouTube below.
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Recipe – Roasted Skate Wings
Freshly caught ray wings have a delicate flavour and most recipes are quite simple.
Baking or roasting are my favourite methods for cooking the wings. It keeps the wings intact and allows the other ingredients to infuse their flavours gently.
Roasted Skate Wings
- 2 Skate wing 300g
- ½ tsp Dried chilli flakes
- Olive oil
- 200 g Cherry tomatoes
- 2 lemons
- 2 knobs Butter
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Toss the cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes in 1 tbsp of olive oil and roast in a large roasting pan for 10 minutes.
- Season the skate wings with salt and pepper and transfer to the roasting pan, moving the tomatoes to one side. Roast for 15 minutes.
- Make the dressing by gently melting the butter in a small non stick pan, let it cool for a while and then whisk in 2 tbsp's olive oil, the juice of a lemon and the mustard.
- Pour the dressing over the fish and tomatoes and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.
- The skate is cooked when the flesh can be lifted away easily from the centre bone.
- Serve with a quartered lemon, the tomatoes and the pan juices.New potatoes go well to soak up the sauce.
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Please observe minimum size limits when fishing.
Use a measure like this one from Tronixpro.