Fish have cheeks! Who knew? I didn’t until I went to see the local fish monger looking for fresh halibut for my favourite fish stew. Halibut cheeks are exactly what you think they are – roundish pieces of fish harvested from either side of a halibut’s head. Similar to scallops, they have a sweet, delicate flavour and a succulent, tender texture. They’re considered by many to be the best part of the fish. On the day that I was shopping, they were also the less expensive choice ($19 per pound compared to $21 per pound for fillets) which really surprised me considering that, no matter how you slice it, there are only two cheeks per fish.
Don’t worry if you can’t find halibut cheeks where you are. You can always use fillets or any other white fish with a dense, firm texture (like cod or snapper).
Recipe for Brazilian Fish Stew
|Brazilian Fish Stew|
- 8 oz halibut cheeks (or halibut fillets)
- 8 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Juice from two limes
- 1/2 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil (divided)
- 2 tsp dried cilantro
- 1 tbsp jalapeño pepper, finely diced (divided)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
- 1 cup red onion, finely diced
- 2/3 cup red pepper, finely diced
- 2/3 cup plum tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
- 2/3 cup light coconut milk
- 2/3 cup vegetable broth
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- Rinse halibut cheeks well, then cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in a glass bowl and add the shrimp. Drizzle with lime juice and 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Add cilantro, half the jalapeño and half the garlic. Toss to coat the seafood evenly. Cover and let marinate for 30 minutes.
- In a sauté pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and sauté until soft, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining jalapeño, garlic and the tomato. Cook just until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the coconut milk, vegetable broth, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Simmer about 10 minutes, until very flavourful.
- Add the halibut, shrimp and the marinade to the sauté pan and simmer just until the seafood is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to over-cook the fish. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Garnish with chopped, fresh cilantro.
To make crostini, slice a baguette into 1/4-inch thick slices, arrange on a baking sheet then brush both sides with olive oil. Slice a garlic clove in half and rub the cut surface across the tops of the bread slices, then season with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
†Inspired by a recipe for brazilian-style fish stew from Cooking for One: A Seasonal Guide to the Pleasure of Preparing Delicious Meals for Yourself by Chefs Mark and Lisa Erickson, presented by The Culinary Institute of America
‡Halibut from Alaska and British Columbia carry the Ocean Wise stamp of approval.