Dinner with Bittman: Skate with Brown Butter, Honey, and Capers

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Skate with Brown Butter, Honey, and Capers

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Skate used to be a royal pain in the neck—it’s nearly impossible for home cooks to get the skin off—but now that almost all skate is filleted before it comes to market, we can simply sauté it just like any other fillets. Skate browns beautifully, which sets up this impressive pan sauce based on the classic beurre noisette, or “brown butter.” The honey helps balance the acidity of the capers and lends complexity.

Other seafood you can use: halibut (steaks or fillets), sea bass, red snapper, grouper, or other sturdy, white-fleshed fish, thick or thin; adjust the cooking time accordingly.

All-purpose flour for dredging

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 skate wing fillets, about 1 1/2 pounds total

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons drained capers, or to taste

2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat. While it is heating, sprinkle the flour with salt and pepper and put it on a plate. Put the oil in the skillet—it should coat the bottom well—and turn the heat up to high. When the oil shimmers, dredge the skate lightly in the flour, shaking to remove the excess, and add it to the pan.

2. Cook until the skate is nicely browned on the first side, about 5 minutes, then turn. Cook on the second side, adjusting the heat so the fish does not burn, until it is firm to the touch, another 3 minutes or so. Reduce the heat to medium and transfer the skate to a warm platter.

3. Add the butter and honey to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbly and brown, about 2 more minutes. Add the capers and swirl them around, then pour the sauce over the fish. Immediately add the vinegar to the pan that the butter was in, swirl it around, and pour it over the fish. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.


Posted in Recipes, Seafood


  1. ecobabe2 said...

    If you’re going to cook like food matters perhaps you shouldn’t be recommending that people eat skate, which the Monterey Fish Guide says is severely overfished and mostly caught with bottom trawls, resulting in high levels of accidental catch and substantial damage to the sea floor. I thought I had read that the reason you didn’t do a new edition of your fish cookbook is because you didn’t feel you could ethically recommend that people eat most of the fish you originally included in the book, so I’m surprised to see this recipe here. Some of the alternative fishes you suggest get a MFG thumbs up and some don’t, and yeah, I know it’s confusing and a pain to figure out what fish you can eat…but it seems like part of the point of your "Food Matters" initiative is helping people figure it all out…

  2. Lise Funderburg said...

    Generally, I’m a fan, but there’s an egregious type here (which ruined last night’s dinner). I should have known that “1/4 CUP” of honey wasn’t right. Was it supposed to be 1/4 tsp? Please correct!

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