Happy New Year everyone!
We hope that everyone has had a safe and happy holiday season, and are settling back into the normal routine.
Here at The Smoke Bloke, we have been getting requests for fish scraps such as heads, tails, bones, etc. and that got us thinking. Why don't more people ask for scraps from the butchering process? Are they not comfortable or squeamish around fish heads and skeletons? Or is it that they just don't know what to do with them? We certainly cannot help you with your personal feelings towards off cuts, but we can certainly give you a few ideas as to what to do with salmon bits leftover from the butchering process.
When visiting your local fish monger, you will usually find filets of fish, dressed up nicely for the public to peruse. Unless you truly don't get out much, you will know that all of those filets were once attached to head, tail, bones, etc., which means, its very likely that in the back, they may have those "leftovers", with no use for them. Some will sell the more desirable seafood scraps, but more often than not, they end up in the garbage. You may even luck out and get some scraps for free, however don't expect it, especially if your not planning on actually purchasing anything else from them.
The simplest thing you can do with all these scraps is make a stock. Fish stocks are commonly made from white fleshed fish bones and scraps, however there is no reason you cant use salmon bones and scraps as well. Your stock will just have a deeper colour, and more pronounced flavour, which isn't always a bad thing. Fish stock is easy. Combine your scraps with some basic mirepoix (celery, onion or leek, and carrot) , white wine, lots of water, and peppercorns, bay, thyme stalks or whole sprigs, and anything else you want really (stock suitable that is) , just don't go too crazy, this is a stock, not a soup. Then simmer for about and hour, strain, and voila, beautiful fish stock. Use for soups, chowders, sauces, etc. If you really want to get the most from your scraps, you can then pick all the meat out of the head and bones, and use that as well for salads, fish cakes, soup, and just about anywhere else you would use flaked fish.
Don’t need or want stock? No problem. Even the best fish monger will always have some meat left on the bones when its all said and done. Use the back of a spoon to scrape the bones and you will be surprised with all the meat that comes off. This meat is perfect for pates, fish cakes, mousse, burgers, and any other application that "ground" fish could be used.
Another great part of the carcass is the collar. This is the section that goes from right behind the gill flap to just behind the pectoral fin (closest to head) . Separate this from the head, and the rest of the bones and you have a good amount of meat in there. Its super tender and buttery, and once you try it, you may never go back to buying filets again! Simplicity is best here. Olive oil, salt and pepper, broil for 5-10 minutes a side depending on size, and eat. You will need to navigate around some bones and cartilage, but the result will be worth it! This also works great on the BBQ when the weather is warm enough, or if you are brave enough to get out there in the winter.
This is just starting to scratch the surface as to what can be done with off cuts, but hopefully you will do yourself a favour and go out and get some scraps, and experiment a bit!