The Most Delicious, Affordable Cut of Fish You're Probably Overlooking
I love tuna and salmon just as much as the next person, but I do not love their price tag. High-quality, wild-caught salmon, or even the farmed stuff that is high quality, can easily run $15 or $20 a pound, which is just not a price I can justify for regular meals.
That is, until I met the fish collar. Fish collars are a piece of fish that comes from along the clavicle, the muscle that we call the collarbone, hence the name. They're fatty and rich, and the bone keeps them super moist and difficult to over cook. Fish collars are great for grilling or just broiling because they can take the high heat, and they take well to sauces and dips. Unlike fillets or whole fish, collars carry no tiny bones that you have to watch out for. Eating them is a little like eating a chicken wing: best done with your hands and totally satisfying.
Fish collars are not often sold in American supermarkets because we're not really familiar with them, but we should be. If you're shopping at a place where they are breaking down large, whole fish like salmon or tuna, they've likely got a couple of collars in the back that they'll probably sell to you for a very good price. All you have to do is ask.
I've often found collars at the Whole Foods fish counter. The fishmongers seemed delighted that I even knew what they were. Collars are more commonly available at Asian grocery stores, so if you've got one in your town it's worth making the trip to get these tasty cuts.
Once you've procured them, the easiest way to cook any collar is to rub it in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and put it under the broiler. Start skin side down, and cook about 5 minutes until it starts to brown, then flip and let it go another 5 to 7 minutes until the skin gets all crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly (you don't want to burn your fingers) then pick them up and eat them like a wing. Once you try them, you won't be able to go back to those less-delicious, more expensive fillets.