Aug 13, 2012
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The next time you cast a stingray instead of your intended catch, don’t swear, eat it. Yes, you can cook stingrays and skates. As unappetizing as they seem and as odd as their anatomy may seem, stingrays (skates too) aren’t much harder to clean than your regular table varieties. And, yes, they make delicious dinners.
Do they taste like scallops? You bet. Do some Florida restaurants serve them like scallops? I doubt. Buying large quantities of “scallops” at a restaurant would cost more than buying the real thing. But it’s a good topic of debate at the wharf bar.
In my opinion, the perfect table-sized stingray is the one with a wingspan of about 18 inches to two feet. The little ones don’t give enough meat to make it worth the effort and those with a reach well over two feet tend to be stringy and tough, although the fillets can still be quite good if they are. steamed or baked.
You’ll find recipe suggestions on this page, but let me hasten to make sure that the fillets of a two-foot stingray can be cooked any way you prefer. Stir-fry is my favorite style, but I also enjoyed them fried and grilled.
If you’re good at threading plaice, you won’t have much trouble transferring your skill to stingrays, as the procedure is almost the same, the difference being that stingrays have cartilage instead of bones.
Here’s how to do it:
With the spoke flat on the cleaning table, push with your finger to find the line where the soft wing meets the hard back. Using a sharp knife, slice down along this line from front to back, just deep enough to reach the cartilage.
Then turn the blade of the knife flat and work it along the top of the cartilage towards the tip of the wing, much like separating the fillet from the bones of a typical fish. Do the same for the opposite wing.
Now turn the stingray on the back and cut the underside of the two wings in the same way. The lower fillets will be thinner and smaller, but good. The last step is to peel the four fillets by passing the knife between the flesh and the skin.
Another method of cleaning is possible, and perhaps preferable when working with a fairly large radius, say one with a wingspan of three feet or more. Here you just need to cut the wing, place it in a saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes. Unless you have a very large pot, you will need to cut the wing in half. Once steamed, the skin peels off quite easily. It is also not difficult to scrape the meat from the cartilage.
You can kill two birds with one stone by adding spices or other flavorings to the water you’re boiling the wing in, and once you’ve scented it you can call the water a short- broth. Many cookbooks including (Blush) My Own Fisherman’s Cookbook include court bouillon recipes. A simple and delicious dish requires adding salt and pepper, along with a few slices of lemon and half a cup of white wine or a quarter of a cup of vinegar for every two cups of water.
Boiled skate meat lends itself to many delicious treatments. In small pieces, it’s as good as crabmeat or bay scallops in cold salads and pasta sauces. Sliced ââor sliced, all it takes is a quick sear on each side, along with your pet’s sauce, to become a barbecue treat.
Years ago, long before I ever (knowingly) sampled a stingray, another system of preparation was described to me. The myth of substituting stingray for scallops in restaurants was widespread at the time, so it made sense to me. This method requires some sort of cookie cutter made by sharpening the edge of a two-inch iron pipe with a file or grinding wheel. When hammered through the wing of a stingray, the makeshift cutter produces a neat piece of meat that, once the skin is cut off, might pass as a scallop – in taste only. Anyone who falls into the trap of the masquerade will inevitably become wise by biting into the cartilage. On the flip side, you could always trick your guests with the faux scallop side dish recipe.
- 2 stingray wings, in fillets, peeled, cut into cubes
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs (more if needed)
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder
Cubes from the thicker part of the wing are best for this treatment, although thinner parts are also good. Sprinkle the cubes lightly or to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dip the cubes in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Fry at about 350 degrees until golden brown.
- 2 skate fillets (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
- 2 oz. Butter
- 3 tbsp. drained capers
- 2 tbsp. caper vinegar
Place the skate fillets in a shallow pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender (or use already steamed skate meat according to the instructions in the article). Melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook until browned. Add the capers and vinegar and heat until boiling. Drain the fillets, place them on a hot plate, pour the sauce over everything and serve immediately. For 5 or 6.
- Stingray fillets, about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs.
- 2 oz. melted butter
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
- 1/8 c. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
Set the grill to low to medium. Combine melted butter and lemon juice in a small bowl. Cover a drip pan with foil and brush with 2 tablespoons of the mixture. Combine the garlic salt, parsley, paprika and white pepper. Sprinkle the spice blend on both sides of the fillets.
Grill fillets until meat falls apart, about 10 minutes. Brush the fillets with lemon butter again and sprinkle with paprika before serving. For 4 or 5. FS
Florida Sportsman Magazine January 2011