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Skate with Capers and Brown Butter

This delicate fish cooked with herbs and served with a brown butter caper sauce makes any night feel like a special occasion.


  • 4 pieces skate wing, unfilleted (about 2 1/2 pounds in all)

  • 4 1/2 cups water, or more if needed

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter

  • 1/3 cup capers

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the skate in a large, deep skillet wide enough to fit all the fish in one layer. Pour the water and the 1/2 cup vinegar over the fish. Add the thyme, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the peppercorns, and bay leaves. Add more water if needed to cover the fish. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, partially covered, at a gentle simmer for 3 minutes. Increase the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and let sit until the fish is just done — opaque and firm to the touch — about 5 minutes. Line a rimmed baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels. Carefully remove the fish from the pan and transfer it to the baking sheet to drain on the paper towels.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium stainless-steel saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Cook the butter until it turns a medium brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar, capers, parsley, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the ground pepper. Serve the fish topped with the sauce.

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