Walleye Cheeks, a.k.a. Fresh Water Scallops

Walleye cheeks are amazingly delicious little morsels!  They have a nice texture, are somewhat sweet, and practically melt in your mouth when just lightly pan fried, just like a sea scallop. Plus, walleye are super fun to catch and are a popular game fish in New York State.  Fish must be 15″ or longer to keep and often larger fish (over 6lbs) are released to keep breeding, such as this 9+lb fish caught in the St. Lawrence River.woman with large 9+ pound walleye fish on boat with river in background.

Sauteed Walleye Cheeks


  • 6 walleye cheeks
  • 1-2 Tbsp. butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives or parsley and lemon to serve


  • Remove the walleye cheeks using a sharp fillet knife and carefully cutting the cheek out.removing wallet cheek with a fillet knife
  • Remove the skin from the cheek piece with your knife and repeat on the other side.
  • Brine the cheeks in a mixture of 2 cups cold water,1 Tbsp. kosher salt, 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar, and some lemon peel for about half an hour.  If using previously frozen meat, defrost the meat directly in the brine, which should only take about an hour.package of frozen walleye cheekswalleye cheeks in brine mixture
  • Remove cheeks from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towel.walleye cheeks drying on paper towel
  • Melt butter over medium to medium high heat in a skillet.
    chive butter melting in cast iron pan

    chive butter melting in cast iron pan


  • Add the walleye checks to melted butter.  Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until nicely browned.walleye cheeks browning in skillet
  • Turn checks over and brown 1-2 minutes on other side and season with salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs if desired. browned walleye cheeks in pan
  • Serve the walleye cheeks on a bed of lightly sauteed greens, such as arugula or spinach, as an appetizer.  Garnish with fresh chives, chive flower, or parsley and a wedge of lemon.walleye cheeks served on sauteed greens in a scallop shellnutrition label for walleye cheeks
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