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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Lovely Skate Wing, Disgusting Ammonia Fragrance

Bada Bing recently bought a skate wing to cook with. "Before cooking, it smelled a bit fishy but in a generic way and not too bad, and not the least hint of ammonia," says Bada Bing. "I battered and pan-fried it, and my son and I dug in. The fish actually didn't taste bad—my son kept eating until I asked him, doesn't this smell 'off'? I took a few close sniffs of the fillet and got an OVERPOWERING blast of ammonia smell." What to do?

The ammonia smell is normal, and nothing was wrong with the skate, says therealdoctorlew. "Ammonia is part of the skate smell. Yet, when made correctly, skate is delicious," says therealdoctorlew. "My go-to recipe is poached skate in brown butter sauce. The poaching is done in an acidulated court bouillon and the brown butter sauce has some vinegar and capers in it. The fish and kitchen are totally without the smell of ammonia when it is prepared this way."

Another dimension: "Skate, like shark, has to be bled and dressed properly, or else the ammonia odor will occur more quickly," says Karl S. "Likely it just was a skate that wasn't handled as properly as it should have been." Zeldog agrees. "It's not preparation, it's freshness. I've cooked fresh (or fresh frozen) skate many times with no special preparation and it was quite delicious," says Zeldog. " When buying unfrozen skate (or shark), always ask them to let you give it a sniff first. If they won't, go someplace else for your fish."

Discuss: Do I dare try skate wing again?

Green Papayas and Mangoes

Mango and papaya are sweet and fragrant when ripe. But many people in South Asia and Hawaii prefer the unripe, green versions. luckyfatima loves green papaya salad. "Green, unripened papaya ground with its skin is a great meat tenderizer and is used in making many types of kebabs in Pakistani/Indian cuisine," she says. In Hawaii, "we eat green mango plain, with mayo and shoyu," says Mag454. "You can also pickle the green mangoes. I have a friend who makes pickled mangoes every year (in fact, he should hopefully be giving me some soon!) and they are a very tasty treat."

Discuss: green papayas, green mangoes

The DIY Home Bar

The DIY Home Bar

Make your own falernum, grenadine, and maraschino cherries. READ MORE

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"'Vuelve a la Vida' ('Back to Life' or 'Return to Life') is a ceviche cocktail that appears to have originated in Veracruz, Mexico. It contains various seafoods such as shrimp, octopus, oysters, crab, et al., with ketchup/tomato sauce/salsa, lime juice, onions, cilantro, and chile peppers. This 'corpse reviver' (sometimes called 'Levanta Muertos') is supposed to cure any hangover. That sounds so much better as a hangover cure than menudo or greasy Jack in the Box tacos." – rworange

"Rice, but not plain rice. It has to be mushy as in congee or loaded with toppings as in fried rice and ketchup or bibimbap." – JungMann, on a vegan hangover cure

"One doesn't necessarily 'need' binchotan, but it does burn much hotter and cleaner than ordinary hardwood charcoal." – MikeG, on binchotan charcoal

12 Restaurant Apps Not Worth Downloading

The bar to create a location-based app is apparently pretty low. License the business data (most of these apps appear to use similar data; it's similarly faulty), create an interface, and list it in the iTunes store. Many of these apps show all types of businesses, but I'm only looking at restaurants. (See our list of 9 restaurant apps that are worth downloading.) READ MORE

9 Restaurant Apps Worth Downloading

You're busy, you're important, you need to find a restaurant from your phone, and it had better be good. Here are nine apps that work well. Famous web brands with tons of users are, unsurprisingly, the most reliable. But there are a few hidden gems. Many of these apps show all types of businesses, but I'm only looking at restaurants. (See our list of 12 restaurant apps that are not worth your time or money.) READ MORE

What a Weird Place to Find Great Barbecue

The best thing about Chowhounds is how they dig for great chow. A cruddy ambience, a grotty restroom—such things are small change to the hound in search of underrated grub. Well, TomH has done his Chowish duty, extracting a shining diamond from a dust heap: great barbecue at "dingy" and "dark" Fenway standby Copperfield's on game days, smoked off-site by a guy who seems to know his stuff.

"Of all of the places to find some good BBQ I have to say Copperfield's was the LAST place I was expecting it," says Tom. But: "Having had one or two beers I could no longer resist the temptation and decided to walk over to the small stand to see what the guy had for food. I was pretty impressed by his descriptions of how he prepared and smoked the different items he was offering. After trying a sample of the pulled chicken and pulled pork I decided to go with the juicy looking brisket. I must say I was pretty blown away with the quality, flavor (a nice smoke ring), and freshness of the food."

Each sandwich is $7 and homemade sauce is available on the side.

Copperfield's [Fenway]
99 Brookline Avenue, Boston
617-247-8605

Discuss: BBQ @ Copperfield's

Step Up to Bob’s Counter

cubbie wants you to know that Bob's Imported Food & Catering has wonderful things you can pick up and bring home. And eat!

Said wonderful things: hamburger meat ("$3.49 a lb for 85%, nice red color, strands of really tasty looking ground beef," says cubbie), house-made sausages, pasta dinners, salads. Sandwiches are gorgeous: chicken parm, steak and cheese, fine Italian cold cuts.

And finally, "marinated steak tip dinners are enormous as well as delicious; all the specialty foods are to die for. I have lived in Medford all my life and can NEVER remember anything I have bought or eaten from Bob's that was not perfection," says MeffaBabe.

Bob's Imported Food & Catering [North of Boston]
324 Main Street, Medford
781-395-0400

Discuss: Bob's, Medford

Tea Drinkers Demand Equality

Coffee drinkers are taken seriously, so seriously that there's now a job title ("barista") for those who serve the brew. Tea drinkers are lucky if those same baristas even deign to drop their tea bag into the hot water. But not at these hound-recommended spots, where fine teas are given their proper due:

• Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe in Cambridge has a large selection, including teas from Concord importer Mark T. Wendell.
• Tea Zone in Somerville is, as smtucker puts is, "a very nice shop. You could visit once, note which teas interest you, and they will do mail order for you as well."
• West Newton's Timeless Teas serves "some of the best tea that I have ever tasted," avows veggielover, and has a particular focus on teas from Ceylon.
• And finally, if all that fails, lipoff advises that Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, will sell loose tea: "If you are really serious about tea it is worthwhile to arrange a tea tasting at the Swans Cafe at Park Plaza and talk to her about what teas you might enjoy."

Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe [Cambridge]
6 Brattle Street, Cambridge
617-491-8888

Tea Zone [North of Boston]
15 A Elm Street, Somerville
617-628-3238

Timeless Teas [MetroWest]
15 Spencer Street, Newton
617-630-0068

Swans Cafe at Park Plaza [Downtown]
50 Park Plaza, Boston
617-426-2000

Discuss: Where to find a selection of loose tea? Real tea, not the fruity ones

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"Volle Nolle on Hanover in the North End makes a tasty Cuban sandwich ... lunch only. Not the same as 'authentic' South Florida, but very tasty." – 9lives

"Had excellent biscuits and gravy at Highland Kitchen's Sunday brunch. White gravy (needed more pepper) and lots of tasty sausage. Got mine topped with two perfectly fried eggs. Very good fluffy biscuits." – yumyum

"Sofra's in Watertown makes an orange blossom lemonade that is fantastic." – robertlf