Earlier, I lamented that Google had failed to find a decent recipe for Salmon heads. And, after yesterday’s adventures, I had a pile o’ salmon heads that would be sad to waste. Salmon heads are full of all kinds of incredibly tasty meat — little bits of incredibly fatty yummy muscle that isn’t used much for swimming. And, as Rama indicated, the cheeks — the heavenly little salmon cheeks. As the oyster of a chicken is to the rest of chicken meat, the salmon cheek is to the rest of the salmon!
So, given 3 fresh salmon heads of the highest quality and an easter dinner party full of relatively adventurous eaters, I decided to wing it.
The results were so delicious that I only have before pictures. The meat was flavorful and incredibly tender. We used forks to pull out the tasty bits and smeared it on bread like butter (it was that tender) and topped it with various cheeses.
- Get some salmon heads. Fresh is key. If you are cleaning your own salmon, simply don’t worry about trying to cut the frontmost roast as close to the head as possible (like this picture).
- Split the salmon heads. Hold the head upright, stick your thumb in the head’s eye and and grip it solidly. Take your heavy knife and split the head from the top all the way to the bottom. It is surprisingly easy. Except the bottom jaw, for some reason.
- Toss the halved heads in a heavy freezer bag and add soy sauce, fresh squeezed apple juice, lime juice, fresh ground pepper, dried dill, and dried powdered ginger. Or something like it. The soy sauce I used had a lot of salt in it; add a pinch or two or three of salt if you have a lighter soy sauce. Let it marinate for a couple of hours.
- Fire up the grill. Build a hot fire on one side of the grill.
- Toss the heads on the grill, split side down, over the hot side of the fire. Get a good sear on, maybe about a minute or so.
- Move the heads to the cool side of the grill, skin side down. Close down the vents on the grill to lower the temperature. Cook ’em for upwards of five minutes. As long as you pay attention and don’t let the exposed meat get dry, you can’t go too wrong here.
- Serve skin side — eye side — down. People seem to deal with it better that way. Can be accompanied by lemon or lime wedges.
There you have it. Easy, incredibly tasty, and makes use of a part of the fish that is often — sadly — thrown away.
And, more importantly, this will shortly be in Google’s index, to be found when searching for “Grilled Salmon Heads”, “Cooking Salmon Heads”, and/or “Broiled Salmon Heads” (of which, doing the above while broiling wouldn’t be hard — I would drizzle a little bit of honey on top and broil ’em split side up to add some sweetness and get a little bit of a smoky flavor from the caramelized sugars).