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.
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.
- 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.
- Remove cheeks from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
- Melt butter over medium to medium high heat in a skillet.
- Add the walleye checks to melted butter. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes until nicely browned.
- Turn checks over and brown 1-2 minutes on other side and season with salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs if desired.
- 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.