Culinary Adventures, Eats, Our Growing Edge, Recipes
Comments 18

Heads and wings


Dear reader, I have fallen in love with some weird fish bits.

Creamy, fatty, sweet, savoury and undeniably moreish. They are wings. Salmon wings.

Salmon wings (also known as salmon collars) are one of those budget cuts that will probably become too popular (like pork belly, beef brisket and lamb shanks) and see a price increase. Get them while they are still cheap! If you have never had salmon wings before, think of them as ribs or buffalo wings of the sea. You may get your hands dirty but it’s worth it.

One day I was just ambling through my local supermarket, minding my own business when I spied a tray with 2 large salmon heads. I didn’t expect to see salmon wings at the supermarket. I’ve never cooked with salmon wings but I’d seen a few blogs mention them before so I grabbed them instantly.


The salmon heads cost about $2.22NZ ($1.84US) each and had plenty of eating on them. If you are not confident with fish bones or are serving less adventurous eaters, avoid the head and just buy wings.

Just a note on the word grill. Grill here in New Zealand means the same thing broil in the US: Indirect heat from above.


Grapefruit Soy Salmon Wings

Serves 2


  • 4 sets of salmon wings (or 2 salmon heads with attached wings)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Grapefruit slices or wedges to serve


  1. Using scissors, trim off the pectoral fins and discard. If using fish heads, take a sharp knife and cut wings away from the head. Then cut each head in half from back to front. Remove and wash away any gills and dark liver/blood spots.
  2. Mix the soy sauce, grapefruit juice and white sugar together in a large bowl. Add the salmon pieces, turning several times to coat well in the marinade. Marinade for at least 20 minutes. If marinading for longer, please refrigerate. While the fish is marinading prepare rice or congee.
  3. Turn your oven to 200°C grill/broil. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Place salmon pieces in a single layer across the tray. Spoon over additional marinade and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Grill/broil on high for 10 minutes, then turn pieces over, spoon over more marinade, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and grill/broil on high for 10 minutes until done.
  4. Transfer to a platter and add grapefruit slices. Serve with rice or congee.

* Use gluten-free soy if you are gluten-free



Congee is a simple rice soup or porridge that has been eaten all over Asia for centuries. The two essential ingredients are rice and water or stock. Congee is a cheap dish that quite filling and easy to digest. A single cup of rice makes 2 huge bowls of congee. Congee is eaten as comfort food but also served to babies, elderly and the sick. The ginger is not only a flavour enhancer but is used to combat nausea.

I’ve eaten congee since infancy and have tried it in many Asian countries. I always find it very comforting, especially for a traveller’s tummy. Basic congee is great with very tasty dishes like salmon wings.

Basic Congee

Serves 2


  • 2/3 standard cup white rice (1 rice cup)
  • 3 slices fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped spring onion (green onion/scallions)
  • A few sprigs of coriander
  • Salt
  • Water


  1. Soak rice for 30 minutes in cold water.
  2. Rinse rice and add 6 cups of water. Bring to boil, then turn down to simmer. Partially cover (do not cover completely or the water will boil up and over) and cook until the individual rice grains have broken down and the mixture is creamy like porridge (1-2 hours). Stir occasionally to make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom.
  3. Ladle into small bowls and top with ginger, coriander and spring onion. Serve “as is” for a light supper when feeling under the weather or with a tasty dish.



This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage us to try new food related things. Kindra from California Cavegirl Kindra is the host for this month’s event. If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click below to join.


  1. Nicely done Genie but I must say that the eyes staring back at me is a bit unnerving. The flavours in your dish definitely sound lovely.

    • You’re right, the eyes are not for the squeamish! I ate fish eyes when I was a kid but I’m pretty sure this practice isn’t common in many countries.

      • I would have been even less likely to eat them as a kid. My friend Kim’s kid asked their chef friends to prepare a fish with the head and eyes still in tact so she could eat the eyes, and she did. She was 6 at the time.

        • That’s cute in a oddball way. What did she think of the eyeballs?

          For some reason, children that are really adventurous eaters warms my heart. I was only adventurous because my parents really gave us no choice. We always ate what they ate. That might include raw oysters, whole fish etc. We never got a children’s meal.

          • I think she just wanted the experience, I doubt she would do it again today at the age of 12. I think it’s ridiculous to serve children different things than adults, we were the same as you and if you didn’t like what was put in front of you, you just didn’t eat.

  2. My current love is with artichokes, but I see that your current love is way more interesting than mine! 🙂
    PS I ate fish eyes too as a kid

  3. This is amazing, I didnt even know you could eat the “wings” ! You have once again, opened my mind and hopefully soon, my mouth, to new foods! Also, with congee.. killer *bows down to you*

  4. Please remind me to try this recipe with salmon, as you do it. I cooked fish head, I think it’s called monk fish, and oh my goodness, the apartment stank horribly for a whole week. The fishmonger later told that I chose the fish with the stinkiest head.. I also love the idea of grapefruit and soy, I have some grapefruit right now, may just try out something like this!

    • Stinky head! That made me laugh.

      I need to make this recipe again. It really is quite delicious. If you can get just wings instead of the whole head, it’s even better. The wings are so fatty and flavoursome.

      Let me how how you get on.

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