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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Aile de Raie, Raie – Skate, the Fish on French Menus

from
Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan G. Newman
     
Aile de Raie, Raie, Flotte, Pocheteau – Skate, Blue Skate. 

Common skate are known to exceed 180 Kg (400 lbs) in weight! The average common skate weighs around 20.40 Kg (45 lbs).

Why skate is rarely cooked at home.

Skate is a French fish restaurant favorite; it has a firm, tender flesh with a clear flavor and light off-white color. Skate is practically never prepared in French homes because it needs to be served as soon as it is cooked. If the fish cools, the flesh begins to gel, and in most home kitchens it is practically impossible to prepare four or possibly more filets for serving at the same time. The home cook also needs a fishmonger who will remove the skin on both sides; the upper side has the touch and feel of skate’s cousin the shark. Only skate wings, are sold as there is no meat on the body, the fishmonger will divide them up as required; he or she knows that few customers will buy a whole 6 kilo (13lb) skate wing.

French chefs love skate.
 
French chefs also like skate, especially when the fish are relatively small, and the filets may be served as beautiful semicircles or half semi-circles that impress the diners. The filets come from the wings of the fish that apart from the cheeks are the only parts that are eaten. Skate will be served in France’s finest restaurants where it may be baked, poached or sautéed with the preferred recipes made with butter and butter sauces.
   

A breaded and fried skate filet.
  
Eating skate.

There are two sides to a skate filet, and the diner eats all the meat on one side and then turns the filet over to reach the flesh on the other side. The material that separates the two sides of the filet looks somewhat like a comb, but It is not made of bone, it is cartilage. That cartilage makes the skate’s wings flexible and allows them to glide through the water. 

Skate cheeks.
             
Joue de raie, skate cheeks, are on more menus as this delicacy becomes better known; some food writers claim the cheeks have a taste similar to scallops.  They certainly have a different flavor and texture to the filet, but I did not think they taste like scallops.  I also found a menu listing where the skate cheeks are offered together with scallops as contrasting tastes.
           
Skate on French menus:

Aile de Raie au Beurre Noir - Skate wing, the filet served with a black butter sauce.  Black butter is made by slowly cooking butter until it changes to a dark brown color, not black; it has a strong, but not burned, taste. Black butter is the classic skate sauce and is often prepared with added capers and or parsely.
   

Skate with capers.
    
Aile de Raie Façon Grenobloise, Pommes Vapeur – Skate wing prepared in a Sauce Grenobloise and served with steamed potatoes. Sauce Grenobloise is a clarified butter sauce made with lemon and capers and almost always used for fish; it originated in the city of Grenoble in South Eastern France. Grenoble is famous for many things and in the food world this sauce and the Noix de Grenoble AOP, the Grenoble Walnuts AOC/AOP stand out.
 
Clarified butter is made by melting the butter and removing those components that rise to the surface as well as the solids that fall to the bottom. The resulting butter has unique taste qualities and allows the chef to cook at a higher temperature than does regular butter.
   
Skate with lemon sauce.
 
Brochette de Joue de Raie et St-Jacques au Lait de Noix de Coco, Riz Sauvage à l'Anis – A skewer of grilled skate cheeks and the meat of the king scallop flavored with coconut milk and served with wild rice flavored with aniseed. Wild rice with its long black seeds looks something like elongated black rice but they are, in fact, are the seed of an aquatic grass. The taste of wild rice is pleasant and slightly nutty, the texture is slightly chewy.  When served mixed with white rice it makes the dish more visually engaging. Serving skate cheeks and scallops together allows all diners to decide if these two flavorsome products from the salt water world have the same taste and texture. 
    
Raie aux Câpres et Beurre Noisette - Skate prepared with capers in a brown butter sauce. Noisettes are hazelnuts, and here the butter is melted until its color resembles the color of hazelnuts along with a slightly nutty flavor.
  

Skate with a mustard sauce.
   
Raie Pochées au Beurre Blanc - Skate wing poached and then served in a white butter sauce. White butter sauce, also called Beurre Nantaise is one of France’s favorite sauces served with fish, seafood or vegetable dishes. The sauce is made with butter, a dry white wine like a Chablis AOC, lemon, and shallots. The city of Nantes gave this sauce one of its names, and it is the regional capital of the department of Loire-Atlantique department in the Pays de la Loire. Nantes sits astride the River Loire where it reaches to the Atlantic Ocean.

Skate is also a popular fish in the UK especially when it is deep fried in a beer flavored batter, and it becomes one of the wonders of a UK Fish and Chip restaurant.
   
Fish and chips in the UK.
Straight to the chippie from the boats in the harbor.
www.flickr.com/photos/f10n4/186861991/

Skate is relative of rays and sharks and sharks, and apart from its wings and cheeks that will be on French menus, I was told that that skate liver is a delicacy in Japan. In France, I have only seen skate liver sold as skate liver oil.
 
Skate in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan -  caputxa), (Dutch - vleet),(German - glattrochen), (Italian - razza bavosa),  (Spanish – noriega, raya noruega ), (Latin - dipturus batis).
 
Connected Posts:
  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
on
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google. Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 3,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.

Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright © 2010, 2018.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman
at


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Gratin – Browned. Unfortunately, Browned is a Poor Translation Even if it is Correct. Gratin, Au Gratin, Gratiné, and Gratinée are Treasured Techniques and Tastes in French Cuisine.

from
Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan G. Newman
      
 Au gratin
www.flickr.com/photos/johnjoh/5936101373/

Our taste buds are activated by memory long before we visit a restaurant offering a favorite dish. So French diners considering memorable dishes with names that include Gratin, Au Gratin, Gratiné, or Gratinée will have their sensory buttons pushed.
  
Recipes with Gratin in the name have been part of French cuisine since the late 1600’s. While any dish that is browned in an oven or under a grill may be called a Gratin, even the simplest Gratin dishes will have a French chef adding cheese, breadcrumbs, cream and or butter to help it along.
    

Le Cuisinier  François - The French Cook,
The earliest French cookbook, written close to 1650 by 
François Pierre de La Varenne, (1618 – 1678).
Page 259 above includes a recipe with a Gratin.
  
Vegetable and fish dishes that are served Au Gratin are usually made with a cheese sauce that includes Parmesan and or Gruyere, or with Sauce Béchamel.  Some chefs add a light touch of mustard or possibly horseradish to accent the dish.

Gratin and Au Gratin on French Menus:
   
Chou-fleur au Gratin Cauliflower cheese.  The cheese will usually be Gruyere with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Effiloché d'Aile de Raie Gratiné à l'Échalote, Pomme Duchesse – Sliced skate, the fish, served with a browned shallot sauce and duchess potatoes. The dish will, just before serving, have a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese added on top of the sauce and then be lightly browned under the grill .and immediately served. Duchess Potatoes are mashed potatoes mixed with butter, egg yolks and flavored with nutmeg and browned in the oven.  While no one is too sure after which Duchess this dish is named after the betting has high odds on Isabella the Duchess of Angoulême. Isabella, became Queen of England when she married King John (1166 – 1216).  This was the bad King John who lost most of England’s French lands; consequently, for the French, he was a good English King! This King John would also sign the Magna Carta giving up many of an English King’s privileges. (BTW Angouleme in the French culinary world has excellent restaurants and is also famous for the tasty eels that come from nearby marshes, but even more meaningful for many is Angoulême’s close proximity to the town of Cognac).
     
Gratin Dauphinois - Thinly sliced baked potatoes cooked with olive oil and garlic and layered with cream and milk. Some versions add onions and nearly all add grated cheese, usually, gruyere with the dish browned under the grill before saving. This dish originated in the two departments of Savoie and Isère in the Rhone-Alps and in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.  Dauphiné translates as a dolphin, that seagoing mammal but that will not be on the menu, neither will the dolphin fish. A dolphin was the symbol of the counts who ruled the area until they were conquered by France some 600 years ago.  Then the Kings of France adopted the title Dauphiné for their eldest sons, the first in line for the throne.  N.B. Pommes de Terre Dauphine is not a dish made Au Gratin, it is potato Croquettes mixed with choux pastry and fried.  
  


The flag of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
    
Gratin de Fruits Rouges A dessert dish of berries including strawberries and or cherries baked in the oven. Dessert dishes like this will be made with sweet cream or crème fraiche and will often be served with ice-cream.
 
Gratin de Pomme de Terre Potatoes sliced and cooked with cheese.
 
Gratin Savoyard - Boiled potatoes baked in butter and beef stock then sliced and interleaved with Beaufort, Gruyere, or another of the famous local cheeses and then browned. The gratin, together with a salad, maybe a lunchtime main course as part of a fixed price menu, or it may be the garnish for the main course. The dish is traditional in the region of Savoie.

 
Gratinée

The most well-known dishes with Gratinée in the name will announce one of France’s famous onion soups when topped with browned cheese.
    
Gratinée à l'Oignon or Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée - Onion soup with a grilled cheese topping; the name used for the Parisian version.
 
Gratinée Lyonnais The classic onion soup from the city of Lyon.

Gratinée de Halles - The traditional Parisian version of onion soup; complete with a grilled cheese topping and today the classic way to serve onion soup. Les Halles was Paris's central food market, and until 1971 when it was moved out of the city a place of pilgrimage for those seeking the perfect onion soup.
   
Gratinée Tradition
www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/5344349906/
 
Gratinée Tradition - Another way that a menu may announce onion soup with a traditional grilled cheese topping.
   

Soles au gratin et vin de Champagne.
No translation required.

 
While Gratin was part of many French recipes before the French revolution of 1789 it was Antonin Carême in the early 1800s who began writing down and creating,  for posterity the recipes that would become Haute Cuisine.  (Dictionary.com notes Gratin's English usage from 1806 as “a  light crust over a dish,” from the French gratin "crust" (16c.), from gratter "to scrape, scratch).

If you visit a French home or rent an apartment with all the kitchen equipment, there will be a platter called a “gratin."  Like many other French cooking bowls or containers, the Gratin took its name from the dishes made with it. French cooking gratins are shallow pans that vary in size from individual portions to oven-sized dishes.
   
Gratin dishes on sale
   
Connected Posts:
 
 
  
  
  
 
  
  

 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
on
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google. Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 3,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.
 
Bryan G. Newman
 
Behind the French Menu
Copyright © 2010, 2018.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman
at 
behindthefrenchmenu@gmail.com