Fish Head

Fish Head

Salted whole salmons sold in Japan

Salted whole salmons sold in Japan

I live in Queens, New York. It is one of the most racially mixed neighborhood in the United States. Within a short distance, I can find specialized grocery stores for Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Greek, Mexican, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, and so on. I love to visit those stores to look around foreign food items, and imagine how people cook with them.

I recently shopped at a Chinese grocery store at the corner of Horace Harding Expressway and 99th Street. I noticed that salmon heads were sold. It’s unusual to see them in the United States. I suspect that most of the fish heads, either big or small are discarded in the United States.

I was watching the heads probably more than five minutes and debating myself. Would my husband and son eat the stuff, or are they totally disgusted? They are cheap, and I know that they are fattier and tastier than plain boring fillets. I didn’t buy after all.

One week later, I went back to the Chinese grocery store. I was still watching the heads. Thinking about what I could do with them this time. They are perfect to grill, but also can be cooked in a donabe with vegetables. Stewed with daikon would be good, too. I didn’t buy again.

But I still can’t forget the heads. I was wondering how Americans think of fish heads. I googled and found an NPR article titled, Why We Should Quit Tossing Fish Heads And Eat ‘Em Up Instead, Yum! I also brought up the subject to my husband. He said, “I know that some ethnics eat them. They may not be my favorite food, but I could try.” But he cautioned that our son may not eat them.

Well, I shall try. When I go to the Chinese grocery store next time, I will buy salmon heads, cook them, and serve them for dinner.

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2 Responses to Fish Head

  1. anna in spain December 16, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    I use salmon heads to make my own fish stock. As bonito flakes are prohibitively expensive here in S. Spain where I live, I infuse water with kombu by barely simmering it for an hour, as I saw a miso master do. Then I remove the kombu from the stock, and add the salmon head and cook until the head is done. My husband enjoys nibbling on the cooked head, and I have about a litre of good fish broth to use in soups etc. Not quite “dashi”, but very tasty indeed!

  2. Ray April 3, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    Ma’am: I had fish head stew at an excellent Redondo Beach Korean restaurant. It was so spicy with Korean red chilis, potatoes, and daikon. The fish heads were so cooked and stewed that the meat fell off the bone. It was also with other parts of the fish too such as descaled tails and fins. Served with cabbage kimchee too and other hot sides. As a Caucasian white boy with Korean roots, I loved it. Fish heads need to be heavily Korean spiced and then they’ll make a great hangover chaser or cold weather intestinal poultice. Keep up the great cooking traditions of the ancestors. Vive le fish head stew!