Asparagus with agretti, chilli oil and poached skate

Asparagus with agretti, chilli oil and poached skate

By
From
My Favourite Ingredients
Serves
4
Photographer
Jason Lowe

Agretti is a tangy marsh grass, which – like asparagus – is in season during the spring and the two are natural partners. If you can’t find agretti, then use young spinach instead, blanching it for a few seconds only until barely wilted. Delicate poached skate is wonderful served at room temperature with these vibrant vegetables. A drizzle of chilli oil adds a touch of warmth to the finished dish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
400g skate wings
mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
lemon juice, to taste
12 asparagus spears
bunch agretti

Poaching liquor

Quantity Ingredient
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, trimmed, washed and chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 parsley sprigs
a few thyme sprigs
5 black peppercorns

Chilli oil

Quantity Ingredient
1 red pepper
4 red chillies
1/2 lemon, juiced
300ml mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
lemon wedges

Method

  1. For the poaching liquor, put a pan of water on to boil (one that is large enough to hold all the ingredients). Add the carrots, leek and celery, along with the herbs and peppercorns. Once the water has returned to the boil, carefully add the skate wings and immediately turn off the heat. Allow the fish to cook in the residual heat of the poaching liquor as it cools.
  2. When the fish is warm (no longer too hot to handle), carefully remove it using a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Using your fingers, slide the flesh from its fan-like cartilage framework and break into shreds with your fingers. Place in a bowl and dress with a little extra virgin olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and finish with a few drops of lemon juice. Set aside while you make the chilli oil.
  3. Preheat the grill to high and grill the red pepper until the skin is charred and blistered all over, turning as necessary. Now place in a bowl, cover tightly with cling film and set aside; the steam will help to lift the skin. Do the same with the chillies, which will blacken much more quickly. When cool, peel off the skin from the pepper and chillies – it should come away easily. Slice in half and scrape out the core and seeds.
  4. Pound the pepper and chillies with a good pinch of salt to a rough paste, using a pestle and mortar. Add the lemon juice and pour in the olive oil, stirring well to combine. You should have a vibrant, orangey-red, sludgy thick sauce. Set aside while you cook the asparagus and agretti.
  5. Snap the ends off the asparagus and peel the lower end of the stalks. Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil. Wash the agretti in several changes of cold water and pick over, chopping off the pink woody ends and removing any less than perfect fronds. When the water is boiling, plunge in the agretti and cook for a minute, then remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Dress while still warm with a little extra virgin olive oil. Now cook the asparagus in the same water for 2 minutes. Drain and dress also with a little oil.
  6. To assemble, put the agretti and asparagus into a bowl, add the poached skate and toss very gently to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper and add a few drops of lemon juice. Arrange on individual plates and lightly spoon over the chilli oil. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.
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