Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eat them up, Yum!

Fish heads, Fish heads, rolly-poly fish heads.
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up, Yum!

Ask a fish head anything you want to
They won't answer.
They can't talk.

About 9 fish heads rolled up to the old homestead yesterday. Eight made it into the house. A raven and eagle fought over one of them yanked from the bucket. It was entertaining. The eagle won.

Now that tDF works down on the docks he's meeting lots of people who are willing to give away fish and fish parts. Yesterday, it was a bucket full of Black Cod heads. Black cod is also called Sablefish or Butterfish. We don't eat the heads, internet, but we eat the cheeks and collars.

I had a very, very bad experience the last time I ate Black cod and so was a bit skittish about trying them again. I persevered, though. Black cod is a fatty fish and has slime equivalent of an albacore. Plus, these were frozen so it was challenging work cutting out the cheeks.
Here is a bowl full of heads with guts attached. The collar is just behind the gill place and is around the belly. Most of the heads had some lungs/digestive system still attached.
Here I am ripping the collar off after cutting it free of the gill plate.
There really is a lot of meat on a collar. There are few bones and just a bit of cartilage to deal with. The cut also has a fair bit of fat so they broil/grill very nicely.
This is a bowl full of collars. They aren't completely cleaned yet. I peel back the membrane and scrape out all the blood. Blood ruins the flavor of most fish, plus it will discolor the very pale flesh.
This is the cheek. Forward of the gill plate and under the eye there is a pocket of very tender flesh. Halibut cheeks are bigger and better-known than black cod cheeks. These were a bit challenging to excavate because they were frozen. It was hard to differentiate between frozen flesh and cartilage.

Here is the bone structure behind the cheek. You have to cut away the membrane around the eye. There isn't a ton of meat to be found but it makes perfect little medallions.

Here is a nicer, larger cheek. These went into a salad after a quick sear on the stove. I broiled the collars for about 8 minutes with Tamari and sachiko. The flesh is delicate and flaky but covered in fat. Much the way king crab is delicate and fatty.

Tonight, I'm grilling them. They need surprisingly little to be delicious.

Also, I know these are gross images but this is my life. I get buckets of who-knows-what to deal with on a regular basis. Living up here is messy, bloody, and sticky. I love it.


  1. Bleaghhh, this is why I never wanted to be a doctor. Did you compost the rest in the garden?

  2. No composting fish waste--it attracts bears. There is a dumpster at the harbors for things like this.

  3. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh mannnnnnnnnnnnnnn! Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy coooooooooooooool!!!! Great photos, fascinating description! <3 Mawwwwwwwwwwwwww

  4. And! This is the Fish Heads song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKDtUzRIG6I


  5. mmmmmmm..looks nummy! we loved the black cod you served us.boat looks great- what an great way to spend the summer!di