The Crooked Billet

Ray Roulade, Tartare Butter

Serves 4 as starters or 2 as a main

Ray Roulade, Tartare Butter

Ray Fin is what restaurants, fishmongers & supermarkets refer to as skate wing. We’ve fished most skate to within an inch of extinction (ironically not for gastronomy but for fertiliser). There’s a dozen ray species in British waters – some of the smaller varieties are not critically endangered, being fish you see in shops & on menus.

1 Ray wing approx 500g

1 tbsp capers, drained & finely chopped

1 tbsp cornichons, finely chopped

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp finely chopped shallot

4 salted anchovy fillets, chopped

150g butter

Freshly ground white pepper. Malden sea salt

In a large mixing bowl place the capers, cornichons, lemon zest, parsley, shallot, anchovy & softened butter. Season with freshly ground white pepper. No need for salt – the anchovies will take care of this. Evenly bind these ingredients together.

Lay the ray on a chopping board, using a filleting knife carefully remove the top fillet of fish from the spindly cartilage structure. By directing your knife blade towards the cartilage, the flesh comes away surprisingly easily. Turn the wing over & remove the other fillet.

Lay a large sheet of cling film on the work surface. Season a fillet of ray on both sides, place on the film. With a spatula, spread the tartare butter over the fillet. Season the other fillet, place on top of the filling – go “head to toe” when placing the second fillet.

Fold the ‘ray sandwich’ into a roulade – roll from left tip to right wing tip as opposed to top to bottom. Wrap the roulade in clingfilm – a few tightly wrapped sheets gives a good tight cylinder, chill this to set in the fridge.

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil, simmer the clingfilmed roulade for 7 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, allow to cool then refrigerate for 3 hours to re-set.

Serving options – remove the film, use as a cold terrine. Alternatively cut into 2cm thick medallions; put a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat, when foaming add the medallions & fry for 90 seconds each side – the butter will turn nut brown, add a squeeze of lemon, pinch of chopped parsley & a scattering of capers & you’re ready to serve.