Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
To Dry Fish: 72 hours
Total Time: 72 hours, 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 large skate wings, rinsed ready to use
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp good sake (can substitute rice wine)
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced on a bias
- Korean chili thread, for garnish
- Cover skate wings with salt and let stand for 3 days.
- Put skate wings in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes.
- Pour sake and sesame oil over fish and cover again.
- Steam for an additional 5-10 minutes (depending upon thickness) until cooked.
- While skate is steaming, fry egg into a uniform thin layer and then slice into thin strips.
- Garnish skate with a topping of egg strips, scallions and chili threads.
The skate fish is a member of the shark family. Like rays, they have a kite-shaped body with two “wings” and a thin tail. Their “wings” are actually their pectoral fins, which allows them to glide gracefully through the water and also to lie flat on the ocean floor. They eat mainly crustaceans and other invertebrates they find on the ocean floor, but also sometimes eat small fish.
The skate wings are generally considered the edible portion of the fish and the flesh is mild and easy to cook. Although it is not popular throughout North America, skate is sometimes eaten in areas of America with a strong fishing tradition (parts of New England). It's also popular in certain parts of Europe. Because it is not in high demand in America, skate is very cheap compared to other mild fishes. But it's a popular and also expensive food in Korea.
The skate fish is among the most ancient fish in the ocean, and their skeleton is made from cartilage instead of bones. Because of this, Koreans eat skate wings whole without removing the cartilaginous skeleton.
Here in America, most people grill, pan-fry or poach the skate and remove the cartilage plate from the meat. After cooking, the meat separates easily from the ribs. You can also sometimes find filleted skate wings with bones removed at specialty seafood stores.
Popular names for skate include: skate ray, raja fish, briar skate, imitation scallop, summer skate, leopard skate, prickly skate, spotted skate. The mottled skate (Raja pulchra) is the most common variety eaten in Korea and Japan. Certain varieties of skate are overfished and are considered vulnerable by Greenpeace International.
Skate must be very fresh. Try to keep them very cold and use the wings immediately. At our local Korean market, they always give us bags of ice with the skate so that it remains very cold on the car ride home.
Skates excrete urea though their skin (like sharks) if not handled properly. Fresh skate should not smell like ammonia.
Take care not to overcook skate fish, particularly when poaching. If cooked too long, the flesh will separate and come apart.
Another preparation of skate fish that is very popular in Korean cooking is fermented skate (hongeo hwe, hongeo sashimi)*.
“One of the oldest skate ray‐based Korean recipes is fermented skate ray, going back as far as 600 years ago. This recipe originated from Yeongsanpo in Naju. Fermented skate ray is said to have been first eaten by people from Heuksando Island who were forcefully relocated, during the Goryeo Dynasty, to this coastal area, by a government decision to evacuate islands haunted by Japanese marauders. The new settlers of Yeongsanpo brought with them skate ray, a fish abundantly found in waters off Heuksando Island. The sea journey from Heuksando Island to Yeongsanpo took about five days at that time. The fish the islanders brought with them rotted during this five‐day journey, except the skate ray, which was fermented into an edible state. This is, apparently, how the recipe for fermented skate ray began.