A delicacy indigenous to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, halibut cheeks are a treat. The cheeks are cut from the area behind the halibut’s eyes and jaw and have a flavor and texture compared to sea scallops or lobster. They vary in size from tiny morsels taken from small halibuts to pieces larger than your entire hand from fish such as the one below which weighed in at 160 pounds.
The guys went fishing while we were in Homer, Alaska. They were allowed to catch two fish each and the fish they caught were this size; more in the 30 pound range.
Our fish was flash frozen and will be shipped home to us when we return to Lake Lure. The bowl of fish cheek soup pictured above was what we had for dinner at a restaurant in Seward, Alaska. It was flavored with garlic and lemon juice. I am anxious to receive my halibut fillets and my four small cheeks. It won’t be enough to make a soup or chowder, but we will savor them and use the rest of the halibut in many ways.
David and I celebrated our wedding anniversary while in Alaska. I have to say that life has hardly ever been boring for us. Forgive my disheveled appearance. Riding motorcycles is not good for the complexion or the hairdo.
Here are a few more pictures from our trip.
This is Cafe Cups in Homer, Alaska. It is a funky little place with great food and wine.
One of the most awesome sights we saw was the Mendenhall Glacier in Junuea, Alaska. It is a tongue of ice stretching over 12 miles from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake. It is around one-half mile wide and about 100 feet tall.
Tulin and me at the Mendenhall Glacier viewing area.
Notice the ice field behind us. The temperature was about 60 degrees.
Of course I couldn’t resist buying a cookbook while I was here. This recipe for halibut cheeks comes from Cooking Alaska’s Wild Halibut by Kathy Doogan. You can substitute scallops or lobster.
HALIBUT CHEEKS WITH BACON AND SHALLOT RELISH
2 strips bacon, cut crosswise into slivers about 1/4 inch wide
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound to 1 pound halibut cheeks
Salt and pepper
Heat a small non stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon slivers and cook, stirring often, until bacon is browned and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon pieces to paper towels to drain; if necessary, pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Reduce heat to medium and add butter to bacon fat in skillet. When butter has melted, add shallots and cook, stirring often, until they turn light brown and begin to caramelize, 4 to 5 minutes. Add bacon pieces back to pan; stir and continue cooking another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, sugar and parsley them remove relish from heat and keep warm.
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Season halibut cheeks with salt and pepper then add to pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes then turn and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until cheeks are almost firm to the touch. Do not overcook. Place halibut cheeks on plates, spoon relish over fish and serve immediately. Serves 2.