August 14th, 2011

Cod Cheeks; A Cheeky Sandwich

Cod cheeks; what an incredibly interesting and intriguing ingredient! Seen as a waste product by fishermen and a a little gem for a chef. They are literally the cheeks of a cods head. It sounds gross, but think about it, they are perfectly good to eat and as they are perfect bite size muscles they are boneless and very meaty indeed. Easy to prepare and as they are already small they require very little faffing with.

I came up with two recipes for the use of our assignment of cod’s cheeks. One is a “cheeky sandwich” and the other is ”crispy cod’s cheek nugget salad”. The salad and vegetables are from Maple Farm, an organic farm a few miles from the British Larder that produces the most amazing ingredients with a very diverse range.

For both these recipes the cod’s cheeks were coated in either a batter or a crust and then deep fried. The crisp exterior biting into the soft flaky interior makes these little gems rather delicious. It’s a challenge for us to sell these dishes as most people find the thought not as appetizing as I find it interesting. However, perseverance, creative thinking and dish compilation made these two dishes a winner here at the British Larder.

Maple farm is a magical place. A farmer’s dream and a cook’s heaven. From chickens that lay fresh eggs to organic spelt and flour, salad leaves and organic pig. If it can or could be grown or produced organically then they will do so.

Their little farm shop that operates on an honesty basis is usually packed with the finest eggs, perky fresh salad leaves and an array of other organic vegetable, flour and spelt grain and last but not least a freezer stocked with pig.

We love baking with Maple Farm eggs; the yolks are such a vibrant yellow colour that one might be mistaken that food colouring might have been involved.

For the Crispy Battered Cod Cheeks

  • 12 fresh cod cheeks
  • 40g cornflour
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 250ml local real ale (use a real ale that best represents your area)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 egg whites
  • Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sunflower oil for deep-frying

Mix the flour, cornflour, salt, egg yolk and ale into a smooth paste. Whip the egg whites until fluffy and stop just before the soft peak stage. Fold the egg whites into the batter and leave to settle for five minutes.

Remove the skin from the cod’s cheeks, wash and pat them dry on kitchen paper.

Heat the oil to 160ºC. Once it reaches the correct temperature, dip the cod cheeks in the batter and fry them for about 3 -4 minutes until golden brown all over. Cooking time will be dependent on the size of the cheeks. Drain the cheeks on kitchen paper and season immediately with salt and serve.

Fennel and Kolhrabi Slaw

  • 1 kolhrabi, peeled
  • 1 bulb of fennel, preferably with the leaves
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

Cut the tops from the fennel, finely chop. Use a Japanese mandoline to finely slice the fennel and kohlrabi, mix with the fennel tops. Season well and add olive oil and lemon juice to taste.


Aubergine Chips

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1tsp Ras-el-Hanount
  • Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Cut the aubergine in half scoop the inside flesh out leaving about 1 ½ cm thick white flesh attached to the skin. Cut it into long fingers about ½ wide. In a large mixing bowl mix the crushed garlic, aubergine fingers, ras-el-hanout and seasoning with the olive oil.

Spread the aubergine fingers on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until golden.

To Serve:

Cut a floury bap in half, toast the bottom and spoon the fennel and kohlrabi slaw on top. Arrange the crispy battered cod cheeks on top and serve with the aubergine chips on the side.

Serves 4

Crispy Cod Cheek Salad

  • 20 cod cheeks, preferably all the same size
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 200g panko breadcrumbs
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Maldon Sea Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g plan flour
  • 200g fresh garden peas, lightly blanched
  • Mixed leaf salad
  • 4 breakfast radishes, finely sliced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, finely sliced
  • 100g home made tartar sauce

Wash and dry the cod cheeks.

In a small bowl season the flour, in another bowl whisk the egg and in the third bowl place the panko and lemon zest, season lightly with salt and pepper. Dip each cheek in the flour then egg then roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat until all the cheeks are done.

While the cheeks are resting in the fridge mix the salad, place the remaining ingredients in a bowl except the tartar sauce, season and lightly dress with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Heat a deep fat fryer oil to 160ºC. Once it reaches the correct temperature, fry the cheeks for about 3 -4 minutes until golden brown all over. Cooking time will be dependent on the size of the cheeks. Drain the cheeks on kitchen paper and season immediately with salt and serve on a bed of the mixed salad and tartar sauce on the side.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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8 Comments to “Cod Cheeks; A Cheeky Sandwich”

  1. Makes me want to get on a jet plane. So delicious. My uncle always made pickerel cheeks – a Canadian northern fish that is so delicate.

  2. Shu Han says:

    looks fab! i love fish, but usually opt for cheaper more sustainable fishes like mackerel, so it’s great to learn of cod cheeks, which get thrown out anyway! in fact, my chinese parents always went for the cheeks in fish, it’s apparently the most tender, delicious part! where would i find them in london??

  3. Jorge Guedes says:

    Cod cheeks are a common ingredient here in Portugal. We get them salted, and after a couple of hours soaking in water to remove the excess salt, use them in stews, mainly. They are an excelent ingredient to use in a fish stock (or better, a cod stock), because of the high gelatin content of the muscle. After slow, slow, slow cooking, they become the definition of delicious. You should try cod tongues as well. They have an even higher gelatin content.

    Cheers from Portugal, and from an admiring fellow Chef.

  4. Elisa says:

    I don’t think it sounds gross at all, my first thought was “wow, this sounds so yummy!”. Why people would find cheeks gross is beyond my understanding.

    My granny loves to suck all the little pieces of meat out of a fish’s head.
    Battered and fried fish cheeks.. mmm! Imagine salmon cheeks or trout cheeks, lightly smoked…

  5. tara says:

    in all seriousness, I am calling my fishmonger right now to see if he has cod cheeks. this looks too gorgeous to wait on.

    and from what I can see, that is a magical place indeed.

  6. Gary says:

    Cod cheeks sound like an interesting ingredient I’d like to try some time. How easy are they to get hold of? Can’t imagine I would get them at Tesco.

  7. Patricia says:

    Thanks for the memory jog.
    My father used to work near a Salmon cannery and we occasionally were blessed with Salmon cheeks. Loved those thing. Now, will have to search for cod cheeks.

  8. wendyywy says:

    Fish cheeks are delicious.
    If ever a whole fish is served at my house, the cheeks gets “stolen” away first!

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