This recipe for Grilled Cod Cheeks with Szechwan Peppercorn Marinade is something I developed after visiting Newfoundland and Labrador last summer. Though my friends in Newfoundland will think it’s blasphemy, I used west coast Ling Cod Cheeks as fresh Atlantic cod cheeks were not available to me at that time. I’ve also used halibut cheeks when they are in season and they’re delicious too.
For folks living in the land-locked Prairies or west coast, I highly recommend Skipper Otto as a sustainable source of fish. Here in Calgary, you can actually get Fogo Island Fish Hand Line Cod from a company called Meta4Foods. The recipe follows.
Grilled Cod Cheeks with Szechwan Peppercorn Marinade
Equipment: You’ll need about 12 soaked bamboo or wooden skewers and a mortar and pestle.
For the marinade:
1 Tablespoon Szechwan peppercorns
4 ounces butter
2 Tablespoons diced shallots
1 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped chives (plus more for a garnish)
1 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice Powder
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup maple syrup
For the skewers:
1 lb cod cheeks (Atlantic Cod, Ling Cod or Halibut cheeks all work)
1 lb button mushrooms, stemmed
1 each – red, green and yellow bell peppers, cut in bite size pieces
Heat a fry pan on medium heat and add the Szechwan peppercorns. Dry roast them until they become fragrant. Set aside to cool and then grind slightly in a mortar and pestle.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat and add the shallots, garlic, chives, parsely , five-spice powder, ground peppercorns, soy and maple syrup and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Cut the cod cheeks in bite size pieces and add to the cooled marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Skewer the cheeks, mushrooms and peppers. Heat the grill and cook the skewers about 3 minutes per side while basting frequently with the marinade.
Garnish with more chopped chives. Enjoy with a crunchy coleslaw, green vegetables and rice.