How To Turn Fish Cheeks Into A Festive Skewer | Food

VSConscious consumption is on the rise, with 43% of seafood shoppers now saying sustainability is a key consideration in what they buy, according to recent YouGov research. But until seafood companies move toward sustainability, so they can give us better choices, the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide is my go-to for deciding what fish to eat.

Another approach to eating seafood sustainably is to eat cuts that would otherwise go to waste, as in today’s festive-looking zero waste recipe. All good fishmongers sell fish cheeks, or order the heads whole, remove the cheeks and make broth, curry or soup with the rest.

Monkfish and cod cheek skewers with rosemary and guanciale

Whether or not seafood is sustainable is a hotly debated topic, and many fish can be considered sustainable or not based not only on the species, but also on where and how they are caught. The sustainability of monkfish and cod is particularly tricky and varies a lot, but by eating the cheeks we eat sustainably because we save on waste. In fact, cheeks are perhaps my favorite part of fish, and I also like pork cheeks, which in Italy are cured to make guanciale. Here, the two complement each other wonderfully to make succulent, deeply flavorful kebabs made from the usually wasted parts. Homegrown woody rosemary works best for these skewers, but the more delicate store-bought rosemary should also work: first make a decent-sized pilot hole with a metal skewer. And after eating, save the leftover rosemary skewers for the fish stock or compost them.

6 sprigs of rosemary
3 large cheeks of monkfish and/or cod
(about 100g)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oilplus ½ additional tbsp for frying
1 clove of garlic
peeled and cut into six slices
Salt and black pepper
6 thin slices
guancialeor 3 slices of bacon, halved and stretched with the back of a large knife

Make six skewers by removing the bottom 2 cm of leaves from the thick wood of each sprig of rosemary.

Put the leaves in an airtight container, add the oil and minced garlic, then season generously.

Carefully cut the fish cheeks in half, so you now have six scallop-shaped pieces, toss them in the marinade, seal, and refrigerate for four to 24 hours; wrap skewers and refrigerate until ready to use.

Using a metal skewer, poke a pilot hole the full length of the fish cheeks, then poke a cheek into the end of each rosemary skewer. Arrange the guanciale (or bacon, place a slice of garlic on each slice, then wrap tightly around each fish cheek.

Put half a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and, once hot, place on the skewers and cook for two to three minutes, or until caramelized. Turn, repeat on the other side and enjoy immediately.

The Guardian aims to publish sustainable fish recipes. Check the rankings in your region: United Kingdom; Australia; WE.

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