TECHNIQUE FOR CLEANING SKATE
Important to be careful when cleaning a skate. They don’t have a poisonous tail spine like the southern sting ray or cownose ray, but the commonly encountered “clearnose skate” that we see and catch a lot of has tiny spikes/spines on it’s back. These can easily give you a little puncture wound if you press on them which is no biggy but these spines definately have some sort of venom in them and it hurts like a mo-fo. Use gloves and a big ol’ honkin huge knife. One other tip – these are relative to sharks and as with some sharks there is ammonia in their skin. If you leave them uncleaned very long, the ammonia can seep into the meat and ammonia just don’t taste very good now, does it? Oh, last tip – some say – after you’ve cleaned them, that they taste better day 2 or 3 and benefit from some sort of curing process. Kept in the fridge of course.
Here is an excellent instructional video that will walk you through it. It shows the cleaning of a “ray” from the mediterranean sea but the technique is the same with the skates we encounter in the North Atlantic. http://www.filleting-fish.com/ray
Lastly, there are no regulations in place that we know of, stating that you can’t clean these fish species on a boat. (In some areas, you are not allowed to clean your fish at sea.) So, while you’re sitting around dead sticking, try cleaning your garbage on board and keep the meat on ice.