Chesapeake Bay Ray (or Tuna) Recipe
This is a very unusual food for those of us in the Northeast. The preparation can be used with a traditional tuna steak and the flavor is similar to the tuna and almost steak-like (and this type of ‘sting ray’ is only in season in the spring and summer)
I found in my research that the Chesapeake Ray or Cownose Ray is a native species, but is being targeted as a pest by commercial oyster and clam farmers in the Bay. I never knew there was a native ray in theChesapeake, let alone know there is a raging controversy over whether the ray should be culled or preserved. I’ve been told by the fish department where I got the thing that part of the problem is the reduction in the number of sharks that prey on the ray, causing a boom in its numbers Anyway, there is no question, the thing, while a little firm, tastes pretty good.
Chesapeake Ray With Mushrooms & Brown Butter (prep time 10 minutes)
Per serving: 1/4 lb. ray fillet ($7.99 a pound) or tuna fillet (the ray portion was a little over $2.00)
1 T. butter
sliced button mushrooms
Heat butter in a sauté pan on medium high heat until just starting to turn brown. Salt and pepper fillet on both sides and gently lay fish into the brown butter. Turn heat down to medium low and sauté for about 2 minutes per side, spooning brown butter over the top as you go. If you are cooking tuna, remove fish after it is brown on all sides and rare in the middle. If you like it more done, or if you are cooking Cownose (Chesapeake) Ray, cut out the narrow tip, which is already done, set aside and move the rest of the fish to the toaster oven or oven at 350 and finish while mushrooms are cooking. Saute the mushrooms in the brown butter until tender. Spoon mushrooms and butter over the fish to serve.
The Chesapeake Ray fillet I got was quite thin on one end and thick on the other. You may want to slice it into pieces and cook it as such for even finish and even quicker preparation. You would want to do the mushrooms and fish at the same time in this case. I saw, in my research, others with the same comments about the variation in the thickness of the fillet since we were all a little leery about eating the ray on the rare side. Tuna is really good rare, though.
I know this recipe is not really fancy, but, when you have a meat, fish, chicken, vegetable.. whatever, that is really delicious on its own, don’t bury it with a lot of other add-ons. Simple is good.