Garlic and Butter Broiled Salmon Heads

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Buying a whole salmon is out of the question, I prefer cooking its head. Salmon steaks are expensive, and not as fatty and succulent as the meat from the collar and cheeks. Besides, at $1.99/lb, how can I resist a very good dinner for this cheap?

In Filipino cooking, heads of big fish like Maya-Maya (Red Snapper), is usually cooked with tamarind broth – Sinigang. Since my husband is not a fan of sour broth, I decided to broil it.

Even if this is the first time I’m using the broiler under my conventional oven.

Inspired by Inihaw na Panga ng Tuna, (Grilled Tuna Jaw), I mustered the courage to learn how to use the broiler.


  • Butter, ROOM TEMPERATURE (about half a stick; can substitute olive oil)
  • Garlic (about 8-10 cloves)
  • One Salmon Head (serves 2-3 people, if served with rice; can substitute any other available fish at your fishmonger)

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Special Equipment:

  • Broiler on your conventional oven or Turbo Broiler. The procedure is pretty much the same if you choose to broil it in the Turbo.
  • Food Chopper/Cuisinart, optional. If you don’t have one, chop garlic by hand and cream the butter with finely chopped garlic.


  • Fish heads are usually just chopped off, so make sure to rinse again under cool water. Rinsing it in hot water will pre-cook it. Make sure to remove all gills. Yes, that thing where my finger is!

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  • Also remove all the remaining innards, like these raw liver- like spots.

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  • Spot the difference: Before and after cleaning.

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  • Set fish aside. Peel garlic, and chop in your food processor first. Once it is halfway to a fine chop, stop and add the room-temperature butter.

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  • Keep chopping until you have a nice fine paste of butter and garlic goodness. If you want to add other herbs and spices, go ahead and do so at this point. (yay!) Notice, that I didn’t put salt – and I don’t think it needs it since I used regular butter. If you are using unsalted butter, go ahead and salt it.

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  • Dot the fish with butter and garlic mixture liberally on both sides. I’d say spread, but it is a little difficult to do that because the fish is very slippery.

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  • Preheat your broiler at its highest setting. When it is ready, put the fish eyes side up first. Note that this thing will cook very fast, so check every 5 minutes or so. Broilers are different, so use this as an exercise to learn how your broiler cooks food.

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  • After 5-7 minutes in the broiler, the butter will start to melt and the garlic will start to brown. At this stage, spread the butter-garlic mixture with a brush on the fish for an even coat.

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  • Let it cook for another 2-5 minutes, until you achieve this.

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  • Flip it over, and repeat on the other side. This will take less time to cook, so watch it. It should be done in 3-5 minutes…

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  • Or until you achieve this! Isn’t it divine?

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Serve it with salad or white rice.

If you prefer salmon steaks, go ahead. The process is the same, minus cleaning off the gills and other leftover innards.

Willing to give it a try? Salmon eyes are the fattiest bit and the cheeks!

This post originally appeared on Cooking With Stellaaa. All rights reserved.

© 2013, Stella Dacuma Schour. All rights reserved.

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