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Caroline and I made a version (via Ming Tsai's recipe) of Ikan Bakar, a Malaysian/Indonesian dish, for dinner last week.

It was our first time cooking skate, although I've enjoyed it in Chinese and French preparations. It's a really cheap fish ($5/lb at the Blue Moon stall in the Greenmarket on Wednesdays!), but offers good texture and flavor--it has very deilcate, flaky and moist flesh, with a slightly sweet and subtle taste.

While trying to decide the best way to prepare it, I found some horrifying, and intriguing YouTube videos of skate/stingray being butchered.

The dish we decided to make is often grilled by street hawkers, apparently, but we roasted it in the oven--essentially the same preparation as cooking fish en papillote or in foil.

Ming's chili paste recipe called for shallots, lemongrass, chili/jalapeno peppers, limes, ginger, garlic, sugar, salt and Worcestershire sauce (seemed like a questionable addition, so we used some fish sauce and soy sauce instead). I'm sure an authentic rendition would have used belacan, the fermented shrimp paste that shows up in many Southeast Asian cuisines, and I've seen several that also use turmeric and coconut milk, which would add a nice richness to the sauce. Also, a 'real' food stall operator would probably opt for galangal instead of, or at least in addition to, regular ginger.

After mixing these ingredients in a food processor (the potentially-unappetizing pink color is courtesy of the two red jalapenos that I used, but I think adding some chili powder for color might not be a bad idea), you slather the skate with the resultant paste, then sauté some red onions, grill some eggplant slices, cut some fresh tomato, cook some jasmine or basmati rice, and assemble the ingredients on a banana leaf (make sure to fold the banana leaf over on itself at least twice, since just one layer will easily tear and rip) as follows:

- Layer of onions
- Layer of eggplant
-Ssmall mound of cooked rice
- Thai basil leaves
- Slices of tomato
- Skate wing, with chili paste and scallions on top (two medium wings, at a total of about 1.5 pounds, was enough to feed the two of us for dinner and lunch the next day)

After folding up the sides of the banana leaf packet (bought at the Key Foods here in Sunnyside, but available anywhere with Latino markets), pinning it shut with toothpicks, and baking for 20 minutes or so at 350-400 degrees, the result was aromatic and delicious (and pretty spicy--you may want to skimp on the whole jalapenos or consider seeding them if you're cooking this for company or people who don't like extremely spicy food).

Let me know in the comments section if you have any questions about how to make this, and enjoy!

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3 comments

  • Omg Ming Tsai and his ceramic knife!! Playing squash!! Did you take out the bones? I like to fry them and the bones into a greasy fish chips.

    Sonja on

  • Yeah this is genius- I find skate really difficult to cook because it’s so delicate and usually so thinly sliced. It breaks apart so easily in the frying pan!

    Looks great!

    kayoko on

  • wow – that’s impressive….looks like a lot of work. maybe next time instead of the flushing mall, we just come over to your place for dinner? :) great post.

    Hamamama on

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