Skate with brown butter and capers

Skate with brown butter and capers

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
4 skate wings, each about 200–250 g
150g unsalted butter
1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon small capers in brine, drained and rinsed
freshly ground black pepper

For the court bouillon

Quantity Ingredient
1 carrot
1 onion
1 celery stick
500ml water
150ml white wine vinegar
10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
good pinch salt


  1. To make the court bouillon, peel and slice the carrot. Halve, peel and slice the onion and slice the celery. Put into a large saucepan with the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer over a medium to high heat.
  2. Simmer for 15–20 minutes, then top up with cold water to make the liquid quantity up to 1 litre. Set aside to cool, then transfer to a shallow pan. The vegetables can be strained out or left in.
  3. Wash the skate wings, trim the tapering thin end with a pair of scissors to neaten them, then place in the cold court bouillon. Bring slowly to the boil over a medium heat, then turn down to a bare simmer. Cover and cook very gently for 12–20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the skate. It is cooked when the thickest flesh comes away easily from the cartilage. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 120°C.
  4. Remove the skate and drain on kitchen paper, then transfer to a board. You may need to pull away the thick top end of the cartilage. There is a fine membrane and a pale brown flesh that covers the skate flesh; it is best to remove this before serving and it is easier to remove after cooking. Using a fish filleting knife, gently scrape away the membrane, ensuring you aren’t wasting too much of the white flesh. Turn the wing over and repeat on the second side. Beneath the membrane will be the long white grain of the skate. Transfer to serving plates and keep warm in the low oven while you make the sauce.
  5. Discard the court bouillon and return the pan to the heat. Add the butter and melt. Meanwhile, juice the ½ lemon and mix ½ tablespoon lemon juice with the ½ tablespoon water. When the butter is foaming, rich golden brown and smells very nutty and biscuity (beurre noisette), remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice and water mixture with the capers. Taste and adjust the balance if necessary with a little lemon juice, then add salt and pepper to taste, bearing in mind that the capers are salty.
  6. Pour the sauce over the skate wings and serve.


  • It is possible to remove the fillets of skate from the cartilage before serving. Ease it off the cartilage from the thick end, the full length of the thick end. Then, supporting both the fillet and the cartilage, continue to ease the fillet from the cartilage and roll it into a cylinder. Repeat on the second side of the wing.


  • You can replace the lemon juice with red wine vinegar, and/or add some finely chopped herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chives and chervil, with the capers.

Court bouillon

  • A court bouillon is an acidulated cooking liquor, most often used to poach fish. The acidity in this recipe is white wine vinegar, but white wine or lemon juice can be substituted for the vinegar. The vegetables and bay leaves add flavour and the court bouillon should be lightly seasoned. Parsley stalks and other vegetables may be used to flavour a court bouillon.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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