This simple and easy halibut cheeks recipe is one of the best ways to enjoy this delicate and succulent piece of fish. In this recipe, buttery-soft fish cheeks are pan-fried until golden and then served with a rich garlic butter sauce. All you need are a handful of ingredients to turn halibut cheeks into a truly incredible restaurant-quality meal!
Grouper cheeks recipe is also delicious and instead of pan searing i baked it in the oven. You will love it!
Fish cheeks are a meal that you’ll see served at a fancy restaurant but it’s an easy and simple meal to make at home in about 10 minutes. Tender cheek meat is pan-seared until golden brown then it’s served with a quick sauce made with minced garlic, lemon juice, and chicken or veggie broth.
The sauce is flavorful but light enough to enhance the flavors of the fish without overpowering it. The meat is moist and juicy and when served with roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, or steamed rice, you’ll have a quick and delicious lunch or dinner ready to enjoy!
If you’ve never had a fish cheek before they are similar in flavor and texture to sea scallops or crab meat. This meat is taken from the “cheek” or front portion of the fish. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a soft, delicate texture compared to halibut fillets which can be firmer and flakier.
The flavor of cheek meat isn’t overpowering or fish-tasting at all. Because of its light flavor, halibut cheeks don’t need a lot of seasonings for it to taste amazing.
They can be pan-fried, grilled, or baked with great results. The most important thing to keep in mind is to not overcook them, otherwise, fish cheeks can have a stringy texture. Just like in this honey garlic shrimp recipe, its important not to overcook your seafood.
Halibut cheeks. You’ll need 1 pound of fish cheeks. Depending on the size of the fish this can be anywhere from 3 – 8 cheeks. Because the size can vary, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly so they don’t over or undercook. If using frozen fish cheeks, make sure they are fully thawed and dried to ensure even browning and a better flavor and texture.
Olive oil. Used to pan-sear the fish giving a nice golden brown color.
Butter. Adds a wonderful buttery flavor to the sauce.
Garlic. Minced and added to the sauce to make it even more savory and delicious.
Broth. Used to make a flavorful pan sauce and it helps to keep the fish moist and juicy.
Lemon juice. Adds a zesty and slightly tangy flavor to the fish. Lemon is always the perfect flavor combination for fish along with garlic.
Parsley. Adds a bright freshness to this dish.
Optional. Save some lemon slices and chopped parsley for garnishing just before serving.
How to cook halibut cheeks
Let’s start by preparing the halibut cheeks. First, take some paper towels and pat the cheeks dry. This is an important step because it helps the fish get a nice sear when you cook it. Once they’re dry, season them well with salt and pepper on both sides for flavor.
Now, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, place the halibut cheeks in the skillet. You’ll want to cook them for about 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn golden and are cooked through but still tender. After they’re cooked, gently remove them from the skillet and set them aside on a plate.
In the same skillet, turn the heat down to medium and add some butter. As the butter melts, add minced garlic and let it cook for about 1 minute. You want it to be fragrant but not browned. Then, add your choice of chicken or vegetable broth along with the juice of a lemon.
Stir everything together, making sure to scrape up any flavorful bits from the bottom of the skillet. Let this simmer for 2-3 minutes so it starts to reduce and intensify in flavor. Stir in some chopped parsley for a fresh note.
Now it’s time to add the halibut cheeks back into the skillet. Place them in the sauce, spooning the sauce over them so they’re well coated. This step flavors the fish and warms them up if they’ve cooled.
To finish, arrange the halibut cheeks on a serving dish and spoon some of the sauce over the top. Garnish the dish with fresh lemon slices and a bit more parsley for a bright, fresh look and taste.
And there you have it, a delicious dish of halibut cheeks with a lemon-garlic sauce, ready to impress with its simple yet elegant flavors. Serve it hot for the best experience.
Garlic. Use ½ teaspoon granulated garlic or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder.
Broth. This can be chicken or vegetable broth. Both have a nice light flavor that enhances the taste of the fish without overpowering it.
Olive oil. Use any type of oil you like to sear the fish. However, I wouldn’t recommend butter just because it tends to burn and it can leave your fish tasting burnt.
Melt the butter with sprigs of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or oregano. This flavored butter adds exceptional flavor to the sauce.
Halibut cheeks are seasoned simply with salt and black pepper, but try adding a little bit of Cajun seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, onion powder, cayenne pepper, or ground paprika for a different flavor.
Leftovers and reheating
Store cooked halibut cheeks in the air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheating is tricky because its very easy to make cheeks dry. I usually use a microwave and heat it until just warm, 20 second at a time.
Frequently asked questions
Halibut cheeks are meat from the “cheek” or front of the fish. This cut of meat is slightly sweet, very soft, and more delicate compared to the fillets. Halibut fillets are from the side of the fish and they can be denser and a little more lean and flaky compared to cheek meat.
Nope! Cheek meat is boneless and skinless.
Unless you live near the coast it can be hard to find fresh fish cheeks in local grocery stores or fish markets. In that case, consider purchasing them from online seafood delivery services. There is usually a wide selection available to choose from.
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Hope you will like this halibut cheeks recipe as much as we do. Please rate the recipe if you made it and leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.
Halibut cheeks recipe
- 1 lb Halibut cheeks
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- ½ cup broth chicken or vegetable
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Lemon slices and extra parsley for garnish optional
- Dry halibut cheeks, season with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil, cook cheeks 2-3 minutes each side until golden. Remove cheeks, set aside.
- In the same skillet, melt butter, add garlic, cook 1 minute.Add broth, lemon juice, simmer 2-3 minutes.Stir in parsley.Return cheeks to skillet, coat with sauce.Serve hot, garnish with lemon slices and parsley if desired.