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Skate with Capers and Brown Butter

Long a French favorite, skate is becoming increasingly popular with American cooks as they discover just how moist, succulent and flavorful it is. Ours is a classic French preparation—poached with herbs and sauced with a combination of pungent capers, vinegar and mellow browned butter. Boiled potatoes are the classic accompaniment.

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  • Servings: 4

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  • 4 pieces skate wing, unfilleted (about 2 1/2 pounds in all)
  • 4 1/2 cups water, or more if needed
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper


  1. Put the skate in a large deep frying pan in one layer. Pour the water and the 1/2 cup vinegar over the fish. Add the thyme, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the peppercorns, bay leaves, and more water if needed to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, at a gentle simmer for 3 minutes. Raise the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and let sit until the fish is just done, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the fish and drain on paper towels.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium stainless-steel saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Cook until the butter turns a medium brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the remaining1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar, the capers, the parsley, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the ground pepper. Serve the fish topped with the sauce.

Suggested Pairing

Capers suggest a medium-bodied, flavorful white wine, such as a Gavi from Italy or a Pinot Blanc from Alsace in France.

Photo © Melanie Acevedo

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