July 31, 2012
Sichuan Pepper-Glazed Halibut Cheeks
Wine Varietal: Dry Riesling
Halibut cheeks are considered a delicacy by West Coast gourmets because of their crab-like taste and consistency. This easy, yet exotic recipe uses Asian spices, including five-spice and Sichuan peppercorns, to subtly enhance the natural flavor and texture of this rare and expensive cut of fish. Serve with steamed brown rice and sautéed baby bok choy.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons sodium-reduced soy sauce (or 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce plus 1 tablespoon water)
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely ground in a spice mill or electric coffee grinder (See Cook’s Hint, below)
1 1/2 pounds halibut cheeks, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1. Preheat the broiler. Lightly oil a baking sheet or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the maple syrup, soy sauce, and five-spice and stir well. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally until the glaze thickens. Remove from the heat.
3. Place the fish fillets on the prepared baking sheet and brush lightly with the glaze. Place the fish under the broiler 3 to 4 inches from the heat source. Broil for 2 minutes, then remove from oven and brush lightly with the glaze. Broil 2 minutes more, then brush lightly with the glaze. Broil 2 to 3 minutes more, depending on the thickness of the cheeks, which should just turn opaque.
4. Remove the fish from the broiler and sprinkle heavily with the ground Sichuan peppercorns. Divide the cheeks among 4 dinner plates.
Cook’s Hint: World Spice Merchants, just below the main part of the Pike Place Market along Western Avenue, is an amazing resource for chefs and home cooks alike. According to the company’s website, “Sichuan Pepper is not an actual pepper, but the dried berry from the Chinese prickly ash bush. Also known as Fagara this spice has a tingly flavor that zaps the tongue like an electrical current. Use like pepper for a tasty change of pace. Excellent with duck and chicken and in five-spice blends. Make sure to try it the next time you cook salmon, too.” The berries are sold by the ounce, which is equal to about half a cup and costs just $2.00, a very worthwhile addition to any adventurous cook’s spice rack.