How to turn fish cheeks into a festive skewer | Food

Conscious consumption is on the rise: 43% of consumers who buy seafood now say sustainability is a key consideration in what they buy, according to recent YouGov research. But until seafood companies transition to sustainability so they can offer us better choices, the Marine Conservation Society’s Guide to Good Fish is my go-to for deciding what fish to eat.

Another approach to eating seafood sustainably is to eat cuts that would otherwise go to waste, as in today’s festive-looking, zero-waste recipe. All good fishmongers sell fish cheeks, or order the whole heads, remove the cheeks, and make stock, curry, or soup from the rest.

Monkfish and cod cheek skewers with rosemary and guanciale

The sustainability or not of seafood is a hot topic of debate, and many fish can be considered sustainable or not depending not only on the species, but also on where and how they are caught. The sustainability of monkfish and cod is notoriously complicated and varies greatly, but by eating the cheeks, we are eating sustainably because we are saving on waste. In fact, cheeks are perhaps my favorite part of fish, and I also love pork cheeks, which in Italy are cured to make guanciale. Here, the two complement each other beautifully to make succulent and deeply flavorful skewers made from the parts that usually go to waste. Homegrown, woody rosemary works best for these skewers, but more delicate, store-bought rosemary should work fine too—just make a decent-sized pilot hole for them with a metal skewer first. And after you’ve eaten, save the leftover rosemary skewers for fish stock or compost.

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6 sprigs of rosemary
3 large monkfish and/or cod cheeks
(about 100g)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oilplus ½ extra tablespoon for frying
1 garlic clove garlic
peeled and cut into six slices
salt and black pepper
6 thin slices
guancialeor 3 slices of streaky bacon, cut in half and stretched out with the back of a large knife

Make six skewers by removing the bottom 2cm of leaves from the thick, woody part of each rosemary sprig.

Place the leaves in an airtight container, add the oil and sliced ​​garlic, then season generously.

Carefully cut the fish cheeks in half so you now have six scallop-shaped pieces, stir them into the marinade, seal and refrigerate for four to 24 hours; wrap the skewers and refrigerate until needed.

Using a metal skewer, pierce a pilot hole through the length of the fish cheeks, then stick a cheek into the end of each rosemary skewer. Place the guanciale (or bacon, place a slice of garlic on each slice, then wrap it tightly around each fish cheek.

Put half a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat and, once hot, place on the skewers and cook for two or three minutes, or until caramelized. Flip, repeat on the other side, and enjoy right away.

The Guardian aims to publish sustainable fish recipes. Check ratings in your region: UK; Australia; US.

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