More Cheekiness - With Halibut


About a year ago I told you all about my first experience with fish cheeks. Grouper cheeks, to be exact. I had been reading about fish cheeks on various other blogs and I was intrigued. When I happened to stumble upon some fresh grouper cheeks at a local fish market, I pounced! Those grouper cheeks turned into a delicious meal for my family and me and I couldn't have been happier. I couldn't believe that I'd never tried, or even known about fish cheeks before! Posting about them made me feel like I was part of the "in" crowd.

One thing that continued to nag at me though, was that I was never able to get my hands on the coveted halibut cheeks. Halibut cheeks are like the Rolls Royce of fish cheeks. They are sweet and flaky little morsels of fish that when cooked, take on a flavor and consistency similar to sea scallops, or dare I say it, lobster. And they just are not available in Florida - ever. Whenever I'd read a new post or find a new recipe for halibut cheeks, I'd feel a tiny little nudge in my gut, which was the realization that I'd probably never have an opportunity to get some of my own. Until Seattle, that is.......

Hmmm. Have I mentioned lately that I was recently in Seattle for the IFBC? Yes? Well,I won't bore you with all the details again, (although Part 3 of my Great Seattle Adventure is still in the works). I'll just skip to the part where I was standing at the Pike Place Fish Market and spied these little beauties.


Do you know what these are?

They're HALIBUT CHEEKS!!! Gorgeous, plump, shiny, pristine and fresh halibut cheeks! Tons of them!


I swear I got a little giddy just looking at that huge vat of cheeks. I think I may even have had to steady myself on the arm of this cute fish guy for a minute or two.


Once I regained my composure, however, I ordered five pounds of those halibut cheeks to go. Pike Place Fish ships their fish anywhere you want it to go, so I had my cheeks sent to my home Florida, along with my king crab legs, Copper River salmon and other assorted seafood delights. The fish arrived at my house the morning after I did. I shared some of my bounty with my mother and brother (but not too much), and packed the rest into smaller packages for the freezer. We'll be eating lots of fabulous fish this Summer at Chez SGCC!

After careful consideration and research, I decided to prepare my fist batch of halibut cheeks as simply as possible. I really wanted to taste the fish instead of masking it under a lot of extra stuff. I took the advice of others who knew better and lightly dusted them (the cheeks, not the others), with some seasoned flour mixed with a little corn meal and toasted hazelnut flour. Then, I pan fried them in a little butter and olive oil. I made some of my Wicked Spicy Tartar Sauce to go along with them and served them on top of a nice little chopped salad for crunch and color.


So, how were they, you ask?


They really, really were. Their flesh had the most lovely, flaky, delicate texture. It was sweet and buttery beyond compare. Mr. SGCC and I barely spoke a word throughout the entire meal. We were too busy groaning with pleasure as we savored each and every one of those succulent little jewels of the sea.


When we had finished, the only thing that could console me was the knowledge that I still had two more pounds of halibut cheeks, just waiting in the freezer to be transformed into another wonderful feast!

If you ever come across halibut cheeks in your travels - get some. Don't even think about it. Just. Get. Some. Trust me, you won't regret it!

Simply Sauteed Halibut Cheeks
(Printable Recipe)


2 lbs fresh halibut cheeks
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/4-1/2 cup toasted hazelnut flour
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon or lime wedges for garnish
Wicked Spicy Tartar Sauce (recipe follows)


Lightly season halibut cheeks with salt and pepper

In a pie plate or other flat rimmed dish, mix together flour, corn meal, hazelnut flour, salt and pepper.

Dredge halibut cheeks in flour mixture and pat off the excess.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Adding 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a time, saute the halibut cheeks in batches until golden brown on both sides - about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook. They should have a consistency similar to sea scallops.

Serve with lime wedges and Wicked Spicy Tartar Sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Wicked Spicy Tartar Sauce


1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons "Wickles" sweet and spicy pickle relish (with juice)
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (depending on how much "spice" you want)
salt and pepper to taste


Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

From the Archives

If you liked this recipe, here are some others from the SGCC archives that you might also enjoy:

Coconut Shrimp

Pistachio Crusted Flounder with Mineola-Ginger Beurre Blanc

Pan Fried Grouper Cheeks

Spicy Crab Cakes with Key Lime Mustard Sauce

Trout Almondine

Seen around the Blogs

Here are some other great halibut cheeks recipes to check out:

Halibut Cheeks with Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Chive Oil from Nook and Pantry

Halibut Cheeks with Pomegranate Sauce from The Omnivore's Solution

Simple and Delicious Halibut Cheeks from Restaurant Widow

Halibut Cheeks with Lemon, Caper and Butter Sauce from Chronicles of a Fledgling Home Cook

Butter Poached Halibut Cheeks with Baby Bok Choy from The Endive Chronicles


Elle said…
Now I totally need to find Halibut Cheeks! I have anew mission...

The way you prepared them looks fabulous--I love the spicy tartar sauce, too!
Rachelle S said…
Those cheeks =) look great! I would totally eat that meal, but I don't think anyone else would. They are not fish fans. More for me!
Katerina said…
They are one of my MOST favorite things! Great in so many ways. I feel very lucky to live on the west coast, and to be one of the few who know the secret...
Wow Susan! I am so going to hunt down some Halibut Cheeks!
Manggy said…
Not a great idea to be looking at this at 2AM-- given me quite the appetite! :P I had this "meh" incident with halibut, where I wasn't impressed with the taste (i.e., none). But these look incredibly tasty indeed! And I'm going to be making that tartar sauce, it sounds like my combination of flavors!
By the way, when you said cute fish guy, I thought of a merman, heh :)
That's awesome that you found exactly what you were looking for. I love it when I'm just dying to try something and I finally find it and it's just as good as I had hoped. Enjoy!
tinyskillet said…
That's great to hear that they tasted as good as they looked! I am so jealous, I need to find some Halibut Cheeks too! Thanks for sharing (the recipe that is).
Terrific, I would say!!! That dish looks so tasty and satisfying!


Jen Yu said…
Nice cheeks, hon! :) I'm so with you on how awesome PPM is. Totally love how you prepared these. Mmmm. Like I tweeted to you, cheeks, collars, belly - give em to me! I could live on seafood alone... *sigh*
I've never eaten that but love your pics.
Anonymous said…
The halibut cheeks look wonderful! I've been wanting to make halibut cheeks for a while but I never see them in my seafood department. Maybe one day :)
Ciao Chow Linda said…
Oh you clever, clever girl having them shipped home. What a great story and post. Now I've got to ask my fish guy to get me some halibut cheeks. stay tuned. i'll let you know if i succeed.
Colleen said…
What a fabulous post Susan...gosh, I have never heard of any kind of fish cheeks...I honestly dont think you get them in SA....these look soooo delicious. I can quite understand your new love affair hehe...well done. Stunning fish market there in Seattle...hugs xxx
Karen said…
Wow, I can almost taste them just by your description. Yum!
It never occurred to me that a halibut would have cheeks big enough to eat!
But after your description, I will definitely seek out some. Great recipe (I love Wickles!).
pigpigscorner said…
Oh wow, that's a lot of cheeks! I love fish cheeks, so tender and delicious!
Claudia said…
Fish cheeks. And, I never knew what I'd been missing. Who would've thought? Your pictures are so beautifully set up and the food looks delicious. Now I just have to find some of those darn cheeks.
FOODalogue said…
I'm going to have to give up my 'foodie' shingle or get me some cheeks to experiment with (from whatever fish, fowl, or meat they come from)! You prepared a beautiful dinner and wrote a very interesting post.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Thanks for the great comments, everyone! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about my big halibut cheeks score! They are reallllly hard to find over here on the east coast. Maybe you'd have more luck in the bigger cities, though. I've tried to get Whole Foods to get some for me for a long time and they never could. Good luck to all you "cheeks" lovers!

Manggy- I hope you decide to give halibut (and their cheeks) another try. I've always found the regular fish to be very tender and delicious. I'm thinking that you just got a bad one.
The Duo Dishes said…
The tartar sauce sounds great. Perhaps you should start jarring that!
They're going on my list!
Nina Timm said…
I have NEVER even seen these at my fishmonger!! What a delight to look at!! Wow, I am going on a cheek hunt!!!
Jen said…
Okay, so I always wondered what all the fuss with fish cheeks was about, but now you've convinced me. GREAT post, Susan!
Lys said…
Susan - I'm definitely going to be making your 'Wicked Spicy Tarter Sauce' this week - looks fab. As for fish cheeks, hmmm... wonder if they will have those in Philly :)
Anonymous said…
That looks amazing. I love the colors.
I'm going to have to try the wicked tartar sauce. I love sriracha.
I never heard of fish cheeks and now I'm fascinated to learn more about them! I love halibut and your recipe sounds perfect.
Anonymous said…
Fabulous! I am not a fish person, but I could totally see eating these little guys. Congrats on getting your hands on them. You rock!
Annie said…
I have never heard of them but must try them now!!
Sara said…
Jealous! I don't know anything about fish cheeks, except that I want them.
Note to self, get some cheeks! You know it's good when you only hear groans coming from everyone at the table!
test it comm said…
That halibut dinner looks perfect!
Cynthia said…
Oh man, I can just imagine how good this is/was.
Farmer Jen said…
Looks delicious! Loved your photos!
Lori Lynn said…
NIce way to serve them.
Gotta love that market!
Cakelaw said…
Very interesting! I have never heard of fosh cheeks before, but I am convinved from your post that they are delicious.
I will need to wait until the next time I am down in Seattle for those Halibut Cheeks. I have had cod tongues in Newfoundland that were really the cheeks.
Peter M said…
They do look freakin' f-ing awesome...even raw! Awww, Sriracha my love....
Peter said…
I've seen a fisherman demonstrate how to get a grouper throat from a big grouper, but I've never caught a big enough grouper to get anything more than a nibble. Halibut get to a couple hundred pounds, so I'll bet there are a lot of good morsels lurking around! Wow, that looks good!

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