Charcoal-Grilled Yellowtail Collar Recipe
Japanese buri kama makes a great first course
In Berkeley, for the 2010 Soba Dinner preparations, one morning Kanchan, Christopher (my eldest), and Sylvan Brackett from Chez Panisse (and Peko-Peko Catering) all trouped across the Bay Bridge to check out the freshly caught fish at Monterey Fish. It was an early mission (very early), so Andrew and I chose to stay in bed. When we finally hooked up back at Sylvan’s cooking studio in Oakland, Kanchan regaled us with his tale of grabbing out fish guts (liver and eggs, to be precise) and yellowtail collars from the refuse pile due to be jettisoned.
He cackled with glee at his “finds” and shook his head over the American waste. While he did not serve those orphan parts at the Chez Panisse dinner, the cooks were the lucky recipients later that night. Kanchan simmered the eggs and livers in soy sauce- and mirin-flavored dashi. The texture was slightly crunchy on the tongue and mildly sweet in the mouth — lovely. And the boldly fatty yellowtail collars, broiled, were meaty and succulent. Good in the oven, these are even better on the barbecue.
- Prepare a barbecue using hardwood charcoal (the fire needs to burn down, so do this a good 45 minutes before cooking). The collar sputters a bit from its natural fish oils, so cook over low heat.
- Lay the yellowtail collar on a small clean grate and set directly over the fire. Sprinkle lightly with salt from a foot above the fish and cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Flip carefully and salt the other side. Flip every 10 minutes or so and cook for a total of 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness and the heat.
- Alternatively, broil slowly on a rack set over a foil-lined broiler pan in the third position from the top of the oven. Check after 5 minutes to gauge the broiler heat. If the collar is browning too quickly, move the rack to a lower position. Turn several times for even cooking and browning. Depending on the broiler, this will take from 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the collar from the grill to an attractive plate. Squeeze a few spoonfuls of grated daikon in your fist to remove excess liquid, mound on the plate next to the collar, and drizzle the center of the mound with soy sauce. Let people dig in with chopsticks as a convivial first course or snack with drinks before dinner.
Variation: Substitute the collar for a similar fatty fish such as salmon.
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