BEST FISH MARKET Minneapolis 2004 - Coastal Seafoods
Dining at a fancy-pants boîte not long ago, we fell in love with a filet of skate, sautéed till crispy on the outside and napped with its classic accompaniment, brown butter. (Skate is a kind of a winged manta ray-looking critter that's a member of the shark family.) Days later, increasingly desperate to re-create the experience, we rang up Tom Lauer, general manager of Coastal Seafoods. Folks, Lauer didn't even draw breath before he launched into a veritable lecture on skate-ology. He gets skate some three times a week from Rhode Island, Oregon, and sometimes Washington. Because skate spoils easily, he gets it more frequently in the cooler months than in the summer. East Coast skate is smaller and more finely grained; West Coasters can get "really big." More to the point, Lauer was pretty sure we could re-create our restaurant revelation at home. (Indeed, where do you think those hoity-toity chefs get their catch of the day? A-yup, Lauer's their man, too.) The big drag with skate, he explained, is cleaning it. "It's hard to skin, it has sharp barbs on it, and if you cut yourself your cut can get infected," he said. We were relieved to learn that Coastal Seafood's fishmongers would clean our skate for us. Here's the bottom line: Coastal Seafoods will special order just about anything, and the staff is happy to help customers figure out the best cooking methods. You can either chat up the staff while you check the glass cases at one of Coastal's three outlets, or better yet, sign up for a class at either the Minneapolis or Wayzata shop.