Baked Halibut Cheeks in Lemon Butter

by ....RaeDi

Living here in the Northwest on the waterfront has its advantages.  Lots of fishing and too wonderful walks on the beach, being a professional beach comber (I love being the first one on the beach after a good ocean churning storm; you never know what you will find.)

Then there is the seafood that you catch, fresh as can be, hook it and in the pan in a few short minutes.  Too you get to know lots of Captains of their own fishing vessels.  T has been around the fishing business forever.  His first job was fishing in the Alaskan waters.  Salmon, Halibut, Crabs, Shrimp if it could be caught he could do it.  As a child he would fish and sell his catch door to door (after his Mother got first choice) to make his pocket change.

One of our friends owns his own Halibut Fishing Boat and each year at the end of season we get several pounds of Halibut Cheeks.  What a wonderful delicacy that melts in your mouth.  We got the call yesterday…  they had just came in from their boat out of Alaska and were on the ferry coming over the sound and we could meet them and get our cheeks, T was off quicker than lighting.  When he got home I could not believe how generous they had been and each one was just beautiful.  We will get lots of wonderful meals with this special package.  We sure are blessed!

Six pounds plus of halibut cheeks, we knew what we wanted to do with them for dinner, bake them in lemon butter… I could taste them as we were getting them in their packets for baking.  I could not wait to sit down and take the first bite.  How many of you have had Halibut Cheeks?  They are so tender and delicious they have an elegance flare with a modishness about them.

Laying there in the rich butter sauce with the parsley floating, they look luscious.  I wanted to set the table with the bone china, but decided against it, the cleanup is so much more and I just wanted to sit down and enjoy our cheeks.

This is so simple to make.  Make a foil pack that will fit the halibut cheeks you are baking.  Rinse and pat dry the cheeks (I love saying that!)  Place cheeks in the pack, one single row, I put the four cheeks and four pats of butter (about 2 tablespoons total,) a pinch of garlic powder, pinch of onion powder, some parsley flakes, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  I drizzled the juice of one lemon all over the tops of the cheeks.   I put about two tablespoons of water in the pack and sealed the pack shut by folding and pleating the foil closed.

I baked them in a 380˚ oven for about 20-25 minutes.  When I opened the packs lots of steam (be careful) came out, that I have been told means they are done.  They were so tender and looked mouth-watering.  I had everything ready all we had to do was serve ourselves.   Not shabby eating for a Midwestern girl who knew very little about seafood when I moved to the coast.  (just a few years ago!!)

They were just as good as I remembered.  I know you can get these at the fish market and even at some of the food stores, but those given to us straight from Alaska seem so very special.  Thank you James they were as wonderful as usual.   T is going to put in an order for a couple of Halibut heads adds for next year’s order.

With the cheeks we had twice baked potatoes with apple smoked Gruyère cheese  (give recipe at later date) and a wonderful fresh, crisp salad.  The whole meal was such a treat.  I too made a little extra butter with lemon to dip our cheeks in!  We truly are blessed!

We have a special freezer jar in the freezer that we put all halibut juices in, those leftovers after baking.  Once we get a couple of cups we are ready to make a nice pot of fish stew and use it with tomatoes as a base.  It is also good for making a nice white sauce to put over toasted bread or even biscuits with pieces of white fish and a few peas and such… good for any meal!  It is amazing….