‘Cod cheeks’? Well, yeah, I had heard of them, but even though I lived in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for 21 years, I had never tasted them, and I had certainly always thought it unlikely I’d have the chance to prepare them. Then I spotted the rarity (at least commercial) displayed at our local super fishmonger, Lobster Place, while I was picking up some wild Alaska salmon on a non-Greenmarket day. I asked the very smiling guy if he would kindly put back the fillet I had just ordered, and which he had already wrapped, and would he please give me some cheek? I got the cheek, with good humor, but I also got the cod cheeks.
I thought I’d find some fantastic recipes when I searched my sources at home, but I was surprised to find nothing in my books or my own files (clippings, mostly). Even the internet wasn’t really much help, since I wanted to keep the preparation pretty simple so I ended up improvising, almost as I went along.
I do think I’ll try flouring or breading them next time, as I imagine that a bit of crunch is one of the few pleasures missing from the recipe I assembled. Or maybe next time I should just think, ‘scallops’.
- cod cheeks from from Lobster Place in Chelsea Market, introduced into a pan with lots of olive oil in which minced garlic from Berried Treasures and a thinly-sliced Thai pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm had been heated, the flame turned down so that they were literally ‘poached’ in the oil for a couple of minutes until springy to the touch, the oil then poured into a cooled bowl, the heat now turned very low below the pan, and the oil slowly re-introduced, along with a generous amount of chopped parsley from Paffenroth Gardens
- cherry tomatoes from Berried Treasures, punctured and heated in olive oil until almost bursting, seasoned
- dark purple/green mustard from Lani’s Farm, braised with a little garlic from Berried Treasures, finished with olive oil
- the wine was a white Portuguese, Aveleda Douro D.O.C. 2012