Poppin’ Up With Brad & Gettin’ Down With Szechuan Skate “Ribs”

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan

brad greenhill
A couple of weeks ago, good buddy, cook, and our web site designer, Brad Greenhill, put on another great pop up dinner, promoted under the name Righteous Rojo.
Brad always finds a great venue for his dinners.

This one was at the Ann Arbor Cub, downtown at Main and Liberty. The club is an old gentlemen’s club (it’s like a secret society, no one I know has ever even heard of it). You take a tiny elevator and when the old metal grates are opened, you enter a spacious old room with card tables and a big fireplace. There’s also a poolroom and a banquet room with two super long banquet tables with cool old chairs. Lunch is served to members during the week who drop in to play cribbage, cards or pool. I thought I knew every nook and cranny of this town, but this was an amazing find, right on the busiest corner of downtown! Brad has also popped up at the Jefferson Market, the Bar at Braun Court, Zingerman’s Event space at Kerrytown and St. Ceces in Detroit.

He has a background in Italian cooking (having cooked in the north end of Boston) but you never know what might show up on his menus. Saturday night he featured everything from chicken wings with colatura (Italian fish sauce), Calabrian chilies, honey and fried garlic (yum!) to a main course of rabbit with speck, preserved lemon, fennel and wild arugula. One of the little dishes served was green garbanzos with sea salt, Sichuan pepper and Aleppo chili powder. The garbanzos were roasted in their shells. The explosion of flavors as you chewed on those beans was incredible. Szechuan peppers, not related to black pepper or chili peppers, are actually in the citrus family and are always an ingredient in Chinese 5 spice powder. They have a chemical makeup that causes a tingling and numbing sensation on the tongue that prepares the palate for the hot chilies to come enabling you to really taste the chilies along with the heat. In Szechuan province they call these peppercorns “hua-jiao” or “flower pepper” and the sensation when eating them is “ma-la”, meaning numbing hot. The Aleppo pepper was perfect with the peppercorns. Grown in Turkey and Syria these peppers are not super hot and have an exotic fruity flavor. Brad topped the garbanzos off with a pinch of sea salt and the taste was unforgettable!

Today’s recipe is not based on any one of Brad’s dishes but inspired by that roasted garbanzo dish. I had been thinking about experimenting with whole skate on the grill. Skate with the skin off, the cartilage left in and sliced in 2-3 inch strips, looks kind of like beef or pork ribs. They are more tender and delicate than real ribs but I wanted to grill them and eat them off the cartilage. Regular BBQ style with a sweet sauce didn’t seem like the right treatment for these “ribs”. Szechuan style with a Chinese broad bean paste sauce (on Brad’s recommendation) seemed like something worth trying. Since the flesh of the skate is quite delicate, it took a little care in grilling but the result was worth it! A few tips – make sure your grill is clean and oiled. After seasoning skate “ribs” let them sit for about 10 min. so that the salt will firm them up for grilling. Gently dab olive oil on both sides and place thick sides on grill first. Grill for about 5 min. before flipping and don’t try to flip until they start to brown and firm up, otherwise they might stick to the grill.

2016 UPDATE: Brad now has his own, very successful, amazing restaurant in Detroit named Katoi. Be sure to check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

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