Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grouper Cheeks Cuban Black Beans + Rice

In my book if you've never tried fish cheeks you haven't lived. Pair grouper and trigger fish cheeks with Cuban black beans and rice and you're as close to heaven as you'll be on earth. I learned about the delicacy of fish cheeks from an old boyfriend I used to fish with back in the late 1970s. I used to fish for trout in high mountain streams which is where I learned about fish cheeks. 

Lots of folks discard the head of a fish, but the head and other parts of the fish can be used in soups and stews for flavoring. In the head is the fish cheek delicacy which is easily removed by peeling back the flap of skin just below  the eye of the fish. Inside is revealed the encapsulated fish cheek. 

We went to Shellys Seafood for our weekly fish purchase and I noticed they had a whole pan of fish cheeks See them there on the far right side of the case. I ordered a pound of fish cheeks which were a mixture of grouper and trigger fish. As they were packaged up I was already thinking about how I would cook them.

I'd been planning to make some Cuban black beans and rice, so I thought that could perfectly accompany the fish cheeks. After soaking a pound of black beans over night, I cooked them on the stove top for several hours. Above you see the black beans cooking with garlic, ground cumin and oregano added to the water. 

While the beans were cooking I sauted some chopped cubanele peppers, celery, ginger, and garlic. After those softened, I added some halved yellow pear tomatoes and oregano and ground cumin. I set the mixture aside to add to the rice later. When the beans were nearly cooked through and the water almost gone. I started a wild rice mixture to cook. After the rice was cooked I added in the sauteed vegetables.

While the rice was cooking I beat one egg and dipped my fish cheeks in to coat them and then rolled them in a gluten free cracker mix and sauteed them till just brown. Cook the fish cheeks till just brown and warmed through. Try not to over cook the fish cheeks.

At the last minute I chopped some fresh cilantro which I tossed lightly into the rice mixture. When the separate dishes were ready I put the beans in the bottom of a bowl, topped with the rice mixture and then a couple of fish cheeks on top.

Since I made a large batch of each item we can have the fish cheeks over Cuban black beans and rice for several days. We're expecting several days of continuous rain so we're all set for meals. Now to get to finally get to some clay. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. I, too, have an ex who introduced fish cheeks to me, in this case walleye. Yummy. This sounds delicious!

  2. My son-in-law needs to know about fish cheeks. He has quite the palate.

  3. they are fought over in this house- so sweet and tasty!

  4. Wow, I had never heard of fish cheeks. They sound like quite a delicacy!

  5. my brother in Alaska introduced me to fish cheeks when I went halibut fishing with him in Valdez, AK. So yummy.
    Next to halibut, grouper is my favorite fish. Harris Teeter had it this week but it was still $13.99 lb and that wasn't the cheeks.
    I always liked to have a grouper sandwich when visiting my parents in Naples, Fl. Rosie's Chickee Bar was the best!

  6. Hi Teresa, thanks, I might have mentioned fish cheeks before, sometimes my memory fails me.

    Hi Joanne, thanks I haven't had any bad ones yet. And I think every fish has them, delicious.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, well I was so happy to find them at the fish market, we'll get them again.

    Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, they are really delicious and so easy to make and cook.

    Hi Michele, thanks, it's about that expensive here too, I've only had it in a restaurant and didn't like it but perhaps I'll try it fresh to give it another chance with one of my recipes. I went fishing with my brother once in SF Bay and we gold halibut and ling cod, the best I ever had. Rosie's Chickee Bar sounds like a great place. Ha.

  7. That looks a fabulous plate of food - and the plate looks rather good too. Fish cheeks are so good - and yet people used to buy them for their cats!

    When I was a child, we lived in Hong Kong, Grouper was my absolute favourite fish. I haven't had it in 50 years!

  8. Mmm, looks so good! And the bowl is gorgeous!

  9. That looks so good! Even without fish cheeks, using fish chunks...I bought some amberjack at our Asian market that would be wonderful that way. I'm going to soak the beans when I am done writing! Yum!

  10. Sorry I am late, my company just left today.
    Congrats on your deserved award and I am so flattered that you chose me to receive it also. Thank you so much. I am so flattered.
    Your recipe looks great and makes me want to taste Cuban black beans again. I have missed them.

  11. Mmmmm, this sounds so good! I think we're going to try making it this weekend.
    Thanks also for visiting my blog!!


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