In England, “ray.” In France, “le raie.” In Spain, “la raya.”
In America, it’s “skate,” the striated, cotton-white fish that, at its best, is fluffy and light–unbelievably delicate–and at its worst, mealy or slimy, and sometimes stinky.
Skate is a particularly cranky fish with an extremely narrow shelf life. Miss it by a day, and it can be heavily ammoniated, inedible. So I’ll only order it where I trust the chef.
I trust Chef Debbie Gold, who is serving skate at The American Restaurant on a creamy bed of coconut rice with cucumbers, young coconut and cilantro blossoms. She rings the whole with a satiny band of squid ink sauce. Together, it’s beautiful and brilliant, nutty and fragrant, with a touch of ocean. To experience this dish at its very best, ask Jamie Jamison, the wine director, for a bottle of Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, which magnifies the flavors in this dish incredibly, especially the dewy freshness of the cilantro. Gold says that the dish will be on the menu for another week or so. Go now.