Grilled Salmon Collar at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa
The Grilled Salmon Collar you see pictured above was served to me at the now defunct Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa, where it was described on the menu as ‘Grilled Salmon Neck’. Several Asian cuisines prize this cut for its rich, high fat content and delicious flavor, and Ken’s version, though not very prettily plated, was especially delectable.
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 so-called ‘collar’ of certain fish (Salmon, Halibut, Yellowtail and Lingcod, especially) is actually section corresponding to the ‘neck’, and consists of the narrow strip just behinds the gills, including 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 for my money, this little tidbit is far superior in texture and taste than the prized section of a Salmon just ahead of the tail.
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 extremely tender and succulent, but, as I mentioned, 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.