Skate wings alla Milanese

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Cotoletta alla Milanese, like the name suggests, is a typical dish from Milan.
Similar to Austrian Wiener Schnitzel, is a bone-in veal cutlet which is pounded to make it thinner and more tender before being coated in flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs (in this order) and then shallow fried in butter and/or oil.

Skate (razza, for the Italian readers) is, in my opinion one of the most underrated fish of all (although I won’t complain because this keeps its price low).
The structure of the wing is a rib to which a layer of cartilaginous bones is attached, and those gelatinous bones inside the wing is something that puts many people off. In spite of the fact that when the fish is cooked the meat will come off very easily, I have to admit that I do not like eating skate with those bones either. For this reason, I started to fillet the wing, getting one fillet for each side.

However, the problem is that the two sides are not symmetrical and I ended up with a fillet which is much bigger and thicker than the other.
Therefore, I started to fillet it keeping the flesh attached to the rib (see below), and then cutting the bone with scissors.

The result is a ‘bone-in skate steak’.
At this point it can be cooked like Cotoletta alla Milanese; the only difference is that, unlike a veal cutlet, skate cannot be pounded (but it’s extremely tender and juicy anyway, so it won’t need it) before cooking.
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INGREDIENTS:
1 large skate wing (about 400-450 g), cut in half
1 tbsp. flour
1 egg, beaten

3 tbsp. breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
2 tsp. finely chopped parsley
Salt (to taste)
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  1. First, fillet the skate: using a very sharp knife, separate the flesh from the cartilaginous bones, on both sides, making sure you don’t cut it on the rib side
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  2. Using scissors, cut off the bones, as below
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  3. Mix the breadcrumbs with all the other igredients listed
  4. Now that you’ve got your skate steak, coat it in flour and then pass it in the beaten egg
  5. Shake off the excess egg and coat with the aromatic breadcrumbs
  6. Heat the oil on medium heat, with the butter.
  7. The butter will start foaming;
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    when it stops, add the skate and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side.
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    Here is worth noting two things

    • I don’t usually cook with butter, but here I find it very useful because, when it stops foaming (which means that all the water it contains has evaporated), it will be at the right temperature. This is very important to make the outside crispy and golden. It is virtually impossible to understand the temperature of the oil when shallow frying (unlike deep-frying, where a thermometer can be used), and this it crucial because if the fat is too hot it will burn the batter, if it’s not hot enough it will make it soggy
    • The fish is ready when the inside is white
  8. Serve it with a squeeze of lemon

Taramasalata

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Taramasalata is a thick, creamy dip, popular in Greek cuisine, made with salted fish roe and oil, usually served as a meze dish or as a starter.

When looking for recipes for a traditional dish that I have never made, I normally check different versions and compare them, and then I make my own version based on a comparison of what I’ve found, adding my twist if I believe that improvements can be made.
For tamarasalata, as usual, I have found some elements that pretty much all recipes have in common (fish roe, olive oil and some bread for the texture), and others that were used only in certain versions (some use garlic, others onion or shallot, others milk or cream).
Since I actually believe that all of this ingredients can give something to this dish, as long as they are treated in the right way and used in the right proportion, I have decided to include all of them, but with some changes:
Garlic: all the recipes I’ve found call for raw garlic; since raw garlic can be overpowering, a technique that can be used to make it milder is blanching: simply put the garlic cloves in a pot with cold water and bring it to the boil. As soon as it starts boiling, transfer the garlic in a bowl of cold (or even iced) water. This operation should be repeated three times.
Milk: for this recipe, however, I have boiled the garlic in water twice; the third time I have boiled it in milk and cooked it until the milk was reduced by half; this leaves soft garlic cloves that have lost all of their aggressive (so to speak) character, and a nicely scented garlic-infused milk
Onion: all the recipes that I’ve seen used raw onion or shallot. Raw onion, a bit like garlic, has got a very strong flavour and is not everyone’s cup of tea (and definitely not mine). The only type of onion that I eat raw in salads is red onion; furthermore, taramasalata should have a nice pinkish colour, and red onion contributes to this as well.

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INGREDIENTS:

200g salted cod roe
50g stale white bread, crusts removed
50ml extra virgin olive oil
100 ml semi skimmed milk*
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp. red onion, finely chopped
1 pinch of parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp. lemon juice

*: NOTE: that is the initial quantity, but it should be reduced by half when you use it
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The process is quite simple:

  • Soak the roe in cold water for about an hour
  • In the meantime, blanche the garlic as described above and let the milk cool down
  • Soak the bread in the milk
  • Rinse and drain the roe thoroughly, cut in half lengthways, then, with the skin side down on a board, scrape the roe off the skin with a knife
  • Places the roe, garlic, onion and bread in a food processor and blend
  • Add the lemon juice and the oil in a thin stream and keep blending until the desired texture has been reached
  • Taste to adjust the seasoning if it’s the case

You can serve it with toasted pitta bread and/or crudités