Too much cheek

Gifts of the sea, Mixed bag | September 17, 2013 | By

In case you’re new, this is an experimental food blog. Luckily, the experiments often work out, but sometimes, they stink. Literally.

Tonight things were cooking along quite well. I had planned to turn some salmon cheeks into a Japanese inspired soup with soba noodles. The recipe called for me to make a stock first out of a fish head, and because I was familiar with fishheads, I elected to avoid them. Instead, I used shrimp shells, because I had heard you could. Hey, does anyone else think it’s funny that I just glossed over the fact that I had planned to cook with salmon cheeks like that was normal? How many of these blog posts do we think it will take before I officially become the world’s biggest food weirdo? I might nearly be there. Here’s the recipe for the shrimp shell stock which could serve as a light base for an Asian-inspired soup, if you don’t mess it up like I did.

Shrimp Stock

  • A good deal of shrimp shells. I had the shells from about 20 medium shrimp, but go with more if you can
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions: Add everything to a soup pot with water and boil it up and then simmer for 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

Shrimp stock

Strain the stock, and you’re good to go.

Now don’t do this. I opened up my little pack of salmon cheeks. They looked like scallops. They smelled like Oscar the Grouch’s beach house garbage can.

Salmon cheeks

And here is a very big bit of cooking wisdom. If it smells bad before you start, it ain’t going to smell any better after you’re done.


That picture nearly captures the stink, doesn’t it?


That last pic was movie-grade stink.

I tried a few bites of the soup and tried to cover the flavour with ginger and miso paste, but quickly I wondered why I was trying so hard. Luckily my husband was kept late at work and missed dinner. The man can’t handle bad smells and gags at the faintest whiff of anything malodorous. He changed lots of diapers, but I often wondered if he had a hairball while he was doing it.

Anyway, this was one of those times I had to bleach the entire kitchen and still couldn’t find the remainder of the fishiness. I do have to give kudos to the fish’s revenge skills – it gets you back for killing it long after it’s dead and gone. A bit like a skunk hitting your tire, or a bee dying as it leaves its stinger in you. I admire that, I must say. Might figure out how to do something like that myself some day. If you’re at my funeral, watch out.

And buy fresh fish, people. Even the cheeks.


  1. Leave a Reply

    September 18, 2013

    Where does one buy salmon cheeks?

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      September 18, 2013

      At my very favourite grocery store, T&T! We’ll have to go there on a field trip one day. It’s a mysterious food wonderland.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Trevor aka The Burger Nerd
    December 16, 2014

    “And here is a very big bit of cooking wisdom. If it smells bad before you start, it ain’t going to smell any better after you’re done.”

    Soooo very true, especially with seafood. Not too mention it smells even worse in round 2 when it simultaneously explodes out of all sluices and the bathroom becomes your bedroom for the night…..nothing like cool floor tiles when you have food poisoning.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>