I remember the first time I ate this dish; I was sitting in the garden of country pub in a tiny rural village somewhere in deepest Essex. I think I was near Ongar? It was the first time I’d been to Essex and I remember being overwhelmed by the beauty of the country side which is so different to the West Country where I grew up.
I had seen recipes for ray wings (skate was the breed used back then) fried in brown butter and capers but had never tried it. And, what a dish it is! Rays have one large almost solid bone running through the middle of the wing with thick stripes of white flesh on either side which makes it is super easy to eat (no danger of small bones). This is a meaty but oh so tasty fish. You absolutely need the sharpness of the floral capers, sour lemon and acidic white wine to balance the sweet richness of the wings and the butter melds all those flavours together.
2 Ray wings, 1 per person (though so of the big wings is enough for 2 people)
20g plain flour
40g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons non pareille capers
50ml white wine (the same quality that you would drink)
the juice of half a lemon
Place a large dry non-stick frying pan on a low heat to warm while you prepare the ray wings.
Wash the ray wings and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper. Dust lightly with flour on both sides and shake off any excess flour.
Turn the heat to medium, add the oil to the warm pan and melt the butter, 10 seconds. Carefully place the ray wings in the pan making sure that the thick middle part is lying flat so it can cook through. Leave the wings to fry for 5 minutes and create a crust. Do not be tempted to move the fish around the pan as the flesh will stick and tear.
Use a spatula and tongs to lift and turn the ray wings and fry the other side. After 1 minute, add the white wine, lemon juice and capers and continue to cook until the ray wings are done, approximately 4 minutes. Use a fork to lift some of the fish from the thickest part in the middle of the wing, if it is opaque white, then it’s done.
Creamy mash goes so well with the sour lemony butter juices from the pan. A simple lettuce salad finished with olive oil and salt is all you need for a perfect supper.
Preparation time 5 minutes, cooking 10 minutes, serves 2