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Pan Fried Skate on Chickpeas and Roquette with a Tomato and Black Olive Salsa

This recipe comes from Chef Jim Fisher who now runs cooking holidays in the Dordogne.

If you would like to know more about Jim and how he gained his love of cooking why not have a look at his biography page <click here>

To find out more about the cooking holidays in France at Jim's cooking school in the Dordogne you will need to visit his web site <click here>

Jim said about this recipe:

I'll never forget the first time I ate skate - it smelled and tasted of bathroom cleaner. Why? Well, I later found out that aficionados of skate demand that it be 'hung' for several days prior to cooking. The resulting pungent amoniac stench, produced by the breakdown of the flesh, apparently improves the flavour. I think not; I don't need my fish to taste of anything other than what it is, barring the odd - appropriate - accompaniment.

Skate is the perfect fish to serve to piscatory novices; the flesh is firm and full-flavoured, and it lacks that armoury of needle-like bones because the skeleton is entirely cartilaginous.

However, the meat is quite rich and gelatinous - no bad thing in itself, but it does need something ascerbic as a chaperone. Hence the salsa.

Bulk up the dish with the chick peas and roquette (rocket) if you're hungry. One skate wing (half a whole skate) will do as a portion.

Dried chickpeas which have been soaked overnight in cold water are best for this dish. You could use tinned ones at a push, but they are often mushy and lack the firm nutty texture of the dried variety. Simmer the plumped chickpeas in plenty of unsalted water for half an hour, drain, then either use straight away, or cool and keep in the fridge for up to five days.

You can replace the roquette with spinach leaves, if you like ; rinse the leaves well, then blanch in boiling unsalted water for thirty seconds only. Refresh in plenty of really cold water, drain, then gently press in the sieve to get rid of what will seem like gallons of water. Use like the roquette in the recipe.


1 small onion
2 vine-ripe plum tomatoes
3 cm (2 in) piece cucumber
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon
12 black olives, pitted and halved
1 tbsp capers
2 to 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
200g (8oz) dried chickpeas, prepared as above
a large bunch of roquette (rocket) leaves
2 - 3 tbsp Crème Fraiche
four skate wings, skinned
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Peel and very finely dice the onion. De-seed the tomatos and chop them into 0.5 cm (1/4 in) dice. Likewise, dice the cucumber. Peel and very finely chop one clove of garlic. Cut ultra-thin strips of zest from the lemon and slice into fine julienne.
  • Throw these five ingredients into a stainless steel or ceramic bowl, then add the olives and capers. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, some balsamic vinegar and some soy sauce.
  • Give it a mix, then taste ; it should be slightly ascerbic, salty and guite powerful. Add more lemon juice, vinegar, or soy if you feel it needs it. Stir in two or three tablespoons of olive oil, cover and set aside to infuse.
  • Peel and finely chop the remaining garlic clove. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat and add the garlic. Lob in the prepared chickpeas and toss to heat through. Skatter in the roquette, tossing all the time until wilted, but not overcooked - about one minute. Stir in the crème fraiche, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally, squeeze in a little lemon juice. Taste.
  • Now, skate is best when slightly undercooked, so get your brain into gear before you put it in the pan - everything else should be ready and waiting for this moment: bring a large frying pan to a high heat - almost to smoking point. Smear the skate wings with a little olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add to the pan and fry for about two minutes. Turn the wings over, then remove the pan from the heat - the skate will continue to cook while you assemble the dish.
  • Place a pile of chickpeas and roquette on four warmed serving plates. Top each with a skate wing, then spoon some salsa over the fish. Serve.

Serves 4

Chef Jim Fisher