Main Dishes

Salmon Headcheese with Basil and Green Onions

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I think, I hope, I may have invented a new food. A long proccess, very messy, but it yields a supremely economical and finger-licking delicious food. What is this food? Fish Head Cheese. Or Fish Headcheese. Get it? Fish Head mixed with Head Cheese? It’s so perfect I can’t believe this isn’t a thing already. But according to the internet, it isn’t.

The whole wonderful invention-of-a-new-food thing came about because a) I had a lot of salmon heads, and b) there is a disappointing lack of fish head recipes online. Sure, there are instructions for roasted fish heads, and for fish head soup, but that’s about it. So what’s a girl to do when she has an abundance of sea-dwelling noggins on her hands?

Why, she turns to pork for inspiration. Specifically to Headcheese, a wonderful terrine made from a boiled pigs head, served in little slices alongside cheese and (hopefully) something bright and crunchy. To make headcheese, one must boil a pigs head, pick the meat from the bones, chop it up, mix with seasonings and herbs, pat into a little pan, pour the leftover pork stock over it, and then chill.

I couldn’t help wondering if the same principles would apply to an oily, fatty, fish like salmon. Spoiler: they did. And this is possibly one of the best things I have ever eaten.

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Salmon Headcheese with Basil Slivers and Green Onions

  • 2 large salmon heads, cleaned and split in half
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 5 large basil leaves, roughly chopped

1. Roast the salmon heads in the oven at 425 degrees. To do this, I lined a cookie sheet with foil, drizzled olive oil onto the foil and the fish heads, sprinkled on a generous amount of salt and pepper, and cooked the heads for 25-30 minutes in the oven.

2. Allow the fish heads to cool, then grab two large bowls. Remove the meat from the fish heads (this is messy and requires your hands, but it’s fun!), putting all the flesh and fat into one bowl, and discarding the bones in the other.

3. Roughly chop your salmon meat into small pieces. Return to the large bowl, and stir in salt, pepper, green onions, and basil.

4. Transfer the seasoned fish into a small pan, bowl, etc. Whatever receptacle looks pretty or is convenient will do. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge.

5. Allow to chill completely. To serve, gently flip your terrine (or receptacle) over and let the Fish Headcheese slide out onto a platter. Serve in wedges, with some fresh fruit, sliced vegetables, and a big potato salad.

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This dish really hits the spot, especially for the summer season. It’s packed with flavor, but cool and chilled. It will accompany almost anything, and you don’t need very much to be satisfied. The fresh herbs play off the natural unctuous flavor of salmon, and the whole thing feels luxurious, but couldn’t be friendlier on your wallet. I’m in love. I’m in lust. I’m…going to make some more Fish Headcheese.

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