This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is skate with capers, cornichons, and brown butter sauce.
First off, I’ll be honest. I didn’t make this recipe with skate. They didn’t have it at the fish counter at Whole Foods, and I didn’t have time to go hunting. I anticipated that skate might not be available, so did a little research on alternatives before I went to the store. Suggestions were all over the map, from meaty fish like shark or halibut to delicate fillets like tilapia and flounder. In the end, I selected flounder fillets because they offered a similar cooking time to the instructions for cooking the skate.
I loved this preparation. Just as when we made the almond flounder meuniere, after I made this dish, I was scratching my head and wondering why I don’t remember this quick pan-fry technique more often for weeknight dinners. Simply pan-frying the fish in butter provides a savory palette for any sort of sauce you’d like.
This recipe’s piquant sauce was a definite winner. The nutty flavor of the butter added depth, the capers and cornichons added salt, and the vinegar a pronounced tang. I’d say the tang was strong on the first bite, though not unpleasant. It grew on you before you swallow.
Dorie suggests serving this on a bed of something creamy like mashed potatoes. I made one of my favorite side dishes, Spiced Chickpea Puree, which is like a warm hummus without the tahini. I share the recipe below.
I’ll definitely be making this again. Even though it’s easy enough for a weeknight, it’s also special enough to serve to company. If I spy skate at the fish counter, I’d try that as the base, but who knows when it will make an appearance.
Spiced Chickpea Puree
2-15 oz cans chickpeas, drained
Up to 1/3 cup water
2 tsp ground cumin
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup garlic oil (or ¼ cup olive oil and 1 clove garlic, minced)
¼ tsp cayenne
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
Drain the chickpeas and rinse well. Place them in the food processor. Puree just until smooth, adding water as needed. Add cumin, lemon juice, garlic oil (or oil and garlic), and cayenne. Pulse to combine. Adjust seasoning.
Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpea puree, and gently heat, stirring frequently, until warm. Stir in chopped parsley before serving.
Adapted from recipe for Spiced Hummus from “American Brasserie” by Rick Tramonto and Gale Gund with Julia Moskin