Déglacer, verb = to “un-glaze”, in other words to scrape the pan juices and dissolve them in a liquid (no one word translation) (pronounce day-glassay).
Conjugated in the present: je déglace, tu déglaces, il/elle déglace, nous déglaçons, vous déglacez, ils/elles déglacent (the ç in the ‘we’ form just serves to keep the c soft, an sss rather than a k).
You will find this term in very many French recipes (but only rarely on a French menu) as sauces are so important in French cuisine. Various liquids are used for déglaçage: water, stock, cream, alcohol, juice.
My recipe for today, Salade tiède de raie aux câpres (a warm salad of skate and capers), makes the salad dressing en déglaçant le plat avec du vinaigre (by scraping the pan juices and dissolving them in vinegar).
This recipe used to be called raie au beurre noir (skate in black butter) but it has since become dietetically (is that an English word? I can’t find a proper translation) incorrect to cook butter until it blackens (it tasted very good, but was very bad for one). It is also sometimes still called raie au beurre noisette (butter which is cooked only to the stage before a beurre noir).
Skate is a very underrated fish, but try this dish, it may just change your mind. It has no bones as such, just easily removable cartilage in the centre of its ‘wing’.
You will need for 4 people:
- 600gr skate, skinned at least on one side (ou quatre petits morceaux de raie)
- butter and oil for frying
- white wine vinegar
- mixed salad leaves (I used lettuce, baby spinach, chicory, red chard leaves)
- salt, pepper
- Wash and dry the piece(s) of skate.
- Wash and dry the salad leaves.
- In a non stick frying pan, put a scant tbs oil and two tbs butter. Heat to melt.
- Fry the skate, skin side down to start with then turn over, and if the piece is wide enough cook on the sides as well. This will take up to 10 minutes; make sure the fish is cooked through to the bone, none of the flesh should remain pink.
- Meanwhile, lay the lettuce on individual serving plates. Finely slice the chicory and red chard leaves into thin strips. Place these on top of the lettuce, and add a few spinach leaves.
- Season the salad with salt and pepper (and a little lemon juice if you wish).
- Remove the fish from the pan onto a board, but keep the pan and the cooking juices warm.
- Carefully remove the central cartilage without disturbing the flesh. You should have whole sides of “meat”. If you tear it up too much, it will not be presentable. Place the fish on top of the salad leaves.
- Put 4 tsp capers and 2 tsp white wine vinegar into the pan and with a wooden spatula stir and scrape up all the juices sticking to the pan. This is known as “déglacer le plat”, to unglaze the dish.
- Share the capers and juices between the servings as a dressing.
- Serve quickly so that the fish is still warm.
Some of the salad leaves I used (notably chicory and red chard leaves) are rather bitter. You can use any salad of your choice.
If you do not wish to fry the fish, you can just as easily poach it in either salted water, or a court bouillon with vegetables and herbs. You will then have to make some other type of dressing.
And while we are on the subject of olive oil (are we on the subject of olive oil?), here is a link to a very good food website, A Spicy Perspective, and a Greek olive oil giveaway. It explains in detail how olive oil is produced in Greece, with lots of lovely pictures. And who knows, you might just win 3 gallons of the stuff!