Fish head soups are a centuries-old Japanese delicacy. Like many other fish. farm, and game animals, the head of salmon hold some of the better (and some say the best) tasting meat to be had. In fact, fish heads are not just an Asian delicacy, but a popular protein source in many parts of the world that are responsible enough to embrace a head-to-tail eating mentality.
Without getting too preachy on the subject, just consider the millions of pounds of protein-rich (and potentially delicious) salmon heads that are thrown away each year…in a country where 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry each night.
Salmon heads make a rich, delicious broth — it’s the fat. Kombu and miso paste are Japanese ingredients that are not terribly hard to find. Especially if you have an Asian community or grocery near you.
Salmon Head Miso Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
2 salmon heads (gills removed)
1 small onion, chopped, about 1 cup
A 4-inch square of dried kombu seaweed, cut into strips
A 3-inch thumb of peeled and slivered ginger
Salt & black pepper
1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
Udon or wide rice noodles
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup white miso paste (more to taste)
Chives and green onions for garnish
Preheat oven to 500F.
Wash the salmon heads well to remove any blood or gills (gills will ruin the broth by making it bitter and cloudy), sprinkle each side of each head with salt and pepper.
Roast the heads for 10 minutes, flip and roast another 5 minutes.
Cover the heads with water in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, kombu and ginger and bring to a bare simmer, but do not let it boil. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, then strain the broth and save the heads.
Pick out all the meat from the heads, especially the cheek meat, reserve and keep warm.
Return the broth to a clean pot and add the mirin. Heat but do not let boil. Add the soy sauce. If the broth still needs salt, add salt — not more soy sauce, as that will make the broth too dark.
Bring another pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.
Pour 1/2 cup of broth into each soup bowl. Add a heaping teaspoon of miso (or more) to each bowl and stir to combine.
Add noodles to each bowl, then top with the salmon meat.
Try to get one cheek into each bowl. Cover with broth, and garnish with chives and chopped green onions, and and serve.