Big Skate
Skate [Raja binoculata]

Big Skate is found from the Bering Sea to the Mexican border, and is the most important commercial skate on the west coast of North America. It is also the largest skate found anywhere around North America, growing to 96 inches and 200 pounds, but the photo specimen was quite small at 14-1/2 inches across, 18 inches long and weighed 1.6 pounds. It was purchased from an Asian market in Los Angeles that serves a mixed Chinese - Vietnamese community. This skate is IUCN Red List status NT (Near Threatened) but not enough is known about it to be certain one way or the other.


Skate is normally sold just as wing quarters but the small one in the photo was sold whole. Basic preparation of a skate is to cut the wings off at the body, then cut from the center of the thick side through the tip of the wing. This gives a nice sharp corner to start peeling the skin from.

The skin needs to be peeled off because it's basically shark skin and shark skin is gritty. Shark scales are built more like teeth than like regular fish scales and don't scrape off, and for this reason sharks, skates and rays are not kosher.

For a small skate like this it would be futile to try to fillet the wings, but they can be pan fried, grilled, broiled or cut into squares or diamonds for use in soups. More on dealing with skate wings is at my page Buying & Preparing Skate Wings.

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