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Fish Heads


bloviatrix
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Diggingoutedness is a fabulous word. Chicken oysters are way up there on the morsel pantheon. Of course turkeys have oysters too. My husband's relatives are either vegetarians or trepidatious white meat eaters, so they never notice when I turn that Thanksgiving bird over and dig them out.

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Filipinos also go crazy over fish heads, especially the ones living near the coast. Bring a granddaughter of a fisherman, I know how to appreciate the joy of deconstructing a freshly-caught-cleaned-steamed fishhead. We cook our fish+head in sinigang (sour soup), paksiw (fish stewed in vinegar) and pangat (poached with a whole tomato). I would fight with my Dad over the fish head (love sucking the brain out and then dig out the eyejelly-muscle).

There is a popular seafood restaurant dish in the Mindanao islands called "Inihaw na Panga" (which is literally Grilled Jawbone). The restaurants would halve a huge tuna head and brush it with oil, salt and pepper and grill it to tenderness. The huge head will be presented to you and sometimes take a third of the table space. I remember one time when some friends and I made a mistake of ordering 3 tuna head orders (thinking they were as big as a plate). Our orders arrived 20 minutes later and we were floored to see hubcap-sized fish heads. We ate one and packed the other two heads for our other colleagues back in our hotel. Each fish head cost lest than 2 dollars.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Diggingoutedness is a fabulous word. Chicken oysters are way up there on the morsel pantheon. Of course turkeys have oysters too. My husband's relatives are either vegetarians or trepidatious white meat eaters, so they never notice when I turn that Thanksgiving bird over and dig them out.

What/where exactly is a turkey or chicken oyster? I have made ostrich oysters - its a thigh muscle.

Back to fish heads . . .

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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What my mother called the oysters were the two succulent bits of meat in the oval shaped concave bones on either side of the back bone. I rarely disjoint a chicken, so it's hard for me to picture clearly the Julia Child procedure described above, but whenever given the opportunity, I do dig out the oysters of a roasted chicken or turkey. In order to do so, of course, it's necessary to flip the bird, so to speak.

I am not fond of handling raw chicken, but I don't mind fish heads; grilled whole fish often just look wrong without their heads. I also like the way the picked-clean bones look when still attached to their two original ends. I admit that I typically don't dig around in fish heads. However, now that I hear there is an "oyster" in the head as well as cheeks, I may be more adventurous.

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I'm day-dreaming of Doddie's (Domestic Goddess) grilled half tuna heads, digging the eye-jelly out with a soup spoon and slurping it down with a bowl of rice... mmmm <<insert drooling emoticon>>

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I'm day-dreaming of Doddie's (Domestic Goddess) grilled half tuna heads, digging the eye-jelly out with a soup spoon and slurping it down with a bowl of rice... mmmm  <<insert drooling emoticon>>

Prawncrackers - I'm drooling at the memory of it. The luscious, succulent morsels of flesh all around the eye and in the cheeks were perfectly grilled and the vinegar-soysauce mix with bird chilis and calamansi was the perfect dip. Lotsa rice were consumed with that meal. Heck, I'm dreaming when I can travel back to Davao (in Mindanao) to order it again.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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.....fish-head sinigang soup.....

Hmmm....I need to poke around local markets for some tamarind soup base!

Miz Ducky, do you think E would give fish head soup a shot? :raz:

Oh dear. I think I'd never hear the end of that one. :laugh:

FWIW, I've seen the tamarind soup base in a number of Asian grocery stores around here.

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I think fish heads are delish, once you get over the "I just ate something's eyeball" squeamishness. Those tuna heads sounds amazing!

Fish heads are a big presence on the menus in Beijing. I always wanted to order a big plate of Appetite-Whetting-Fish-Heads but oddly enough, the dining companions I was with never wanted to join me. Their loss! The only downside to my fish head love is that it's kind of a social faux-pax when you're the one chopsticking fervently at fish cheeks, and everyone else is staring and going kinda green. But that's how it is in my family when we eat whole fish - squaring off for the cheeks or whatever across the table. They are the best part.

Does anyone else really, really love shrimp heads? I always steal shrimp heads off people's plates when they leave them behind. They have this musky, buttery, crunchy flavor that I can't entirely explain but adore.

Edited by faine (log)
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Does anyone else really, really love shrimp heads? I always steal shrimp heads off people's plates when they leave them behind. They have this musky, buttery, crunchy flavor that I can't entirely explain but adore.

I may not do fish eyes (yet ) but shrimp heads? Heck yeah! Your description of shrimp heads is the best I've heard in a long time.....

So, I have to ask- what is the fish eye really like in terms of taste and texture? If I wasn't already tuned into shrimp heads, hearing "musky butteriness" might convince me to get over my squeamishness...... :wink:

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Does anyone else really, really love shrimp heads? I always steal shrimp heads off people's plates when they leave them behind. They have this musky, buttery, crunchy flavor that I can't entirely explain but adore.

I do! Though I have a confession: since I grew up with shrimp carefully stripped of heads, shells, and everything, I've never been quite sure of the etiquette, say, in Chinese restaurants when presented with cooked whole head-and-shell-on shrimp. Especially when they've been dipped in a spicy coating, shell head and all, and fried, my assumption has been that you're meant to eat the whole thing, so I've crunched away happily ... and none of the waiters have looked at me funny yet ... :laugh:

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I do! Though I have a confession: since I grew up with shrimp carefully stripped of heads, shells, and everything, I've never been quite sure of the etiquette, say, in Chinese restaurants when presented with cooked whole head-and-shell-on shrimp. Especially when they've been dipped in a spicy coating, shell head and all, and fried, my assumption has been that you're meant to eat the whole thing, so I've crunched away happily ... and none of the waiters have looked at me funny yet ...  :laugh:

Etiquette, schmetiqutte!! Have you seen us Chinese eat? :biggrin:

There are some dry-fried preparations of prawns that allow you to eat the shells - salt and pepper prawns being one. Though there are a number of more saucy Chinese prawn dishes that require a certain level of dexterity with chopsticks to eat gracefully. If you do find yourself in polite company then pinch the end of the tail with the fingertips of your free hand. Rip the head off with your chopsticks and suck/crunch away at the head. Using your chopsticks peel away the shell around body of the prawn. The shell would have been split down the back and should come away in one piece, leaving you with a morsel of prawn to pop in your mouth and then daintily lick the tips of your fingers. Good luck, practise makes perfect!

Anyway back on topic: sony asked about fish eyes, they don't actually taste of anything. When cooked they become hard and opaque and have an almost chalky texture. It's the jelly around the eyes in the eye socket that is really delicious. It has that slimy slippery quality that some people crave and which others loathe. It's kinda hard to describe the taste though, i suppose it's like decribing the taste of an oyster; slimy, salty,.... the Chinese term "xian" describes it best :wink:

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My fish supplier here sends along racks and heads periodically, along with my regular order, for stock-making. The 45 minutes of simmering that are necessary to make fish stock leave large heads nicely falling-apart soft, but still flavourful. I'll usually pick out 2-3 good ones for my after work snack.

The cheeks and tongues, of course, I'll have already "liberated" and panfried as my before work snack...

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Love 'em! We've been eating a lot of salmon kama (collars) lately, grilled on the bbq, seasoned with nothing more than salt + lemon. They are so delicious, oily and flavourful.

When I was little, my grandma used to dig out the brains of a steamed fish head and told me that fish brains make you smart. She also told me that fish eyes will make you see better.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 5 months later...

Bumping this topic back up to report on some extreme fish head action. :biggrin:

Mr. E (the elderly gentleman of traditional food preferences who I look after) is away for an extended weekend with friends, so I'm reveling in cooking things that would freak him out, such as:

gallery_27785_2788_161292.jpg

I bought these salmon-head halves in a local Korean supermarket, and gave them a simple roast in a 450F oven with just a coating of olive oil and Kosher salt. They were heavenly--as was the guilty pleasure of slurping away at them with nobody to watch what a great noisy mess I was making.

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I love it! I came to work early and was catching up on eGullet while spooning up some yogurt. Colleague walked in, looked at me eating breakfast with the nice big screen shot of salmon heads, and wondered aloud how I could eat while looking at that picture.

She doesn't know what she's missing. :wink: Glad you got to satisfy that craving!

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Fish heads have taken on the oddest role in my life recently! Ever since I wrote this blog post the search term "fish heads" has led over 1000 people to my blog. So, to make them happy, I wrote here about fish head fascination. Then recently I started noticing that people were coming to my fish head posts from, of all places, a BBC site online. So I scurried over here only to find a whole post about fish heads, with the reference on what the French do with fish heads linking to my blog.

Famous For Fishheads (although not French), maybe I should add that to my signature?

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The daughter and "The Boy" went for sushi last week. A new item for them was deep fried salmon head. They were amazed at how big the eyes were! Daughter managed acouple of bites as she was full, but "The Boy" ate up every little bit of the head.

My Mom's favourite way of cooking salmon head is to split it down the middle, season it well with cooking wine, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of light soya, a bit of cornstarch, and lots of fresh ginger and scallions. She'd steam it, then pour some hot oil over the whole thing before topping it with fresh scallions.

She slurps! :biggrin:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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