Fish collars are interesting. They contain a fair amount of rich, unctuous meat hidden in nooks and crannies, protected by flesh and bones. The question that arises is how to get the meat from the collar in order to serve it to the guests. David Burke looked at the situation and sought large fish, like the swordfish and trimmed the collar down into a chop. (I cannot count how many of those chops I cooked back in the day.) On the other, hand Ken took the Japanese approach and marinated smaller fish collars and then grilled them. The collar was placed on the table between guests to share. Polite people and self conscious diners gently poked at the chef's generous mid-meal gift. Those who truly enjoyed food dove into the plate, ignoring utensils in order to use their fingers to excavate amongst skin and bone for rich nuggets of fish, eventually trading a ravaged plate for a hot towel and a lemon.
In the past we have played around with making miniature chops of fish. There is a certain novelty to the process, yet the original fish chop is David Burke's. As for the marinated and grilled fish collar, it is a classic Japanese preparation that we happily prepare for ourselves and others. While Ken showed us the path, he did not pave the road.
Yesterday we marinated some Hiramasa collars in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic oil, and chile oil. Today we grilled them and served them with some spicy greens, fresh lime and a basil puree. The collar is the canvas, the components and flavors the colors. It is always exciting to pick and probe at the collar, savoring the different components of crunchy skin and tender fish, and finally licking your fingers clean with a satisfied grin. It's a perfect meal for sharing with someone you love and someone you don't mind making a mess with.