Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Grilled Salmon Head

Admittedly a fish head isn't exactly top of many people's lists of tasty things to eat but actually, once you can get past eating something that's watching you, you'll be richly rewarded. Cheap too, as if you ask your fishmonger nicely for it, they'll probably give it to you for free. 

I've made fish head curries with white fish like hake before, but with a salmon head I prefer to grill them until the skin is crisp and the meat around the collar has rendered some of its rich fat. Some make soup out of it, but I find it too strong a fish to slurp on its broth. I went down a Japanese route instead. 

Marinated in a bit of soy and stuffed with slices of lemon, hacking the head in half to cook more evenly was tough and gruesome work. Once done though, it is rubbed with a little oil and grilled on a medium heat. Get stuck right in there with some pointy chopsticks and ferret out the meat; the most flavoursome and juicy bit is the cheek, just under the eye socket. Dipped in a ponzu sauce (that's soy with yuzu juice), I ate it with some rice and nasu denaku (miso aubergines). I jazzed up the rice by scattering over some enoki mushrooms once the rice had cooked and was steaming quietly; topped with ikura for a little decadence and some shredded shiso leaves for fragrance, it's not strictly necessary. A little spring onion garnish will do. 

Grilled Salmon Head 

Serves 2 with vegetables

1 salmon head (ask your fishmonger to split it in half) 
3 tbsp light soy 
3 slices of lemon
2 tbsp ponzu for dipping (or use soy sauce with a little lemon juice and zest)

Wash the head thoroughly and rub with the soy sauce and stuff the lemon in any crevices. Leave for half an hour.

Preheat the grill to medium and rub a little oil on the skin of the salmon. Grill for 15 to 20 mins, until the skin is crisp, the eyes are white and the flesh cooked through. 

Serve with steamed rice, spring onion garnish, and the dipping sauce. 


Kavey said...

I've never bought/ cooked fish head but enjoyed a beautiful fish head dish as one of the courses in a kaiseki ryori feast at a ryokan in Japan. It took (a little) more effort to tease the meat out, but it was so moist and full of flavour. Definitely worth it.

Mr Noodles said...

Fish cheeks are the best!

Anonymous said...

Did you eat the eyes?

Ex Smoker said...

That cheek looks really awesome! It's definitely worth putting up with a bit of gruesome for...

Helen said...

That final photo is awesome where it's all sort of spread out. I enjoy working over a fish head I have to say; more rewarding when you find a little nugget.

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Kavey - I really enjoy picking all the meat out - obviously not a dish for when you're really starving!

Mr Noodles - They certainly are!

Anon - no...

Ex Smoker - thanks! A moment's gruesomeness for a lot of deliciousness.

HElen - thanks Hels! Definitely, though I find pointy Japanese chopsticks far easier than others..

Peter said...

I like to grill split yelloweye rockfish (pacific snapper) heads marinated in soy, ginger and sake.

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

My parents do a Steamed Salmon Head dish with black bean and garlic - Mum hacks the salmon head in sizeable chunks.
Heads used to be given away free when you bought from the fishmonger but end nowadays they tend to charge - still makes cheap and tasty eats though.

Anonymous said...

I will try this today. Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

The eyes and cheeks are the best part.