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Notable Nosh: Grilled Salmon Collar

Salmon Neck

Most westerners when preparing a nice sized fish will simply hack off the head and neck and then discard it before utilizing the rest of the flesh as fillets or steaks. The more frugal will sometimes use the head, along with the tail and bones, for making fish stocks, but generally, the head end largely gets ignored despite the fact that it contains quite a bit of delicious meat.

The ‘collar’ of certain fish (salmon, halibut and ling-cod, especially) is actually the ‘neck’ of the fish. Indeed, the one you see pictured above was served to me at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa, where it was described on the menu as ‘Grilled Salmon Neck’. The neck consists of the narrow strip just behinds the gills and includes the pectoral fins and the thick, solid collarbone. There is not much meat here (only about 2 or 3 tablespoons on the one you see above), but, as Asian cuisine has long appreciated, the high fat content of the flesh from this area makes it an especially delectable treat. For my money, in fact, this little tidbit is far superior in texture and taste than the succulent meat near the tail on a salmon.

Ken’s salmon collar is grilled with a sweet soy and mirin glaze, which is a typically Japanese way of preparing this treat. It was garnished with sesame seeds but these were clearly added after grilling and there was no trace of sesame taste, whether from oil or the fresh seed, in the finished dish. It was, I have to say, very nicely done, being tender and succulent, but I did also think that the presentation, at least for a Japanese restaurant, was a bit lacking.

Anyway folks, if you haven’t tried this particular cut yet, I urge you to seek it out. If you live in a larger center with a decent fishmonger, particularly one serving an Asian clientele, it is possible to purchase collars individually. Failing that, the next time you have a nice size salmon to cook, save this piece and try it on the barbecue…

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I certainly agree with you that the neck is actually very tender and succulent. But the meat is very tiny. And what did you do with the rest of the head and the bones? i do not know how to deal with bones, and so fish head is never my cup of tea. When I buy a whole fish which I often do, I always fry the head and freeze it. Then take the fried fish heads out when I have got a good number of them, and boil a fish soup, usually with tofu. . Wow, the taste of the soup is so good!

    April 4, 2013
    • There’s actually quite a bit of meat in the head (a large one anyway), but it is not easy to get at. I, too, make stock or soup with the bony parts.

      April 4, 2013
  2. I friend was just telling me about this! Apparently, there is a place here in the city where after you pick all the meat off your collar, they take it and grill/fry the heck out of it so you can eat the bone like a pork rind. AWESOME.

    April 4, 2013
    • Oooh … that does sound good. I wouldn’t have thought of that!

      April 4, 2013
      • I know! It sounds awesome, right? So, when are you and Darlene making it over to the Big Apple? 🙂

        April 8, 2013
      • Lord knows …. we are constantly travelling but never together. Darlene is in Beijing this week… I leave two days before she gets back 😦

        April 8, 2013
  3. Your glaze looks delicious. I usually either steam or fry whole fish and the part of the fish that we all fight over is the fish cheeks. Salmon collar is sold along with fish heads in packages in HK as so many people use this favorable portion of the fish for soups and other dishes. As you have said, it is only a couple of bites and I have to feed hungry teenage boys…so you know how that goes…

    April 5, 2013
    • It’s pretty much only available in Asian foodstores here… although in big coastal cities that may be different. They haven’t become mainstream yet but when that changes they’ll be gourmet fads for a while and the price will soar 🙂

      April 5, 2013
  4. Very interesting, as usual!

    April 6, 2013
  5. This sounds and looks delicious! I’m always drawn to Asian flavors with fish and chicken, so this recipe has been bookmarked. My husband and I both fish and he always raves about the ‘Fish Cheeks’, which must be similar. Thanks for sharing.

    April 6, 2013
    • I’ve eaten what are called cod ‘tongues’, but are actually the chin or jowl of the fish. I didn’t care for it much as the texture is a bit odd… it’s a little spongy and somewhat like biting into satin or felt. The collar is WAY better 🙂

      April 6, 2013

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