How to Cook Walleye Cheeks: The Ultimate Guide to Freshwater Scallops

Hello, Good News! If you love walleye, you probably know that the cheeks are the most delicious part of the fish. They are tender, succulent, and have a mild flavor that goes well with any seasoning. Walleye cheeks are also known as freshwater scallops, because they resemble the shape and texture of sea scallops.

But how do you cook walleye cheeks? What are some of the best recipes and tips to make them taste amazing? In this article, we will answer all these questions and more. We will show you how to remove the cheeks from the fish, how to prepare them for cooking, and how to cook them in different ways. We will also share some of the best walleye cheek recipes that you can try at home. Whether you want to fry them, bake them, grill them, or make a soup with them, we have you covered. Let’s get started!

How to Remove Walleye Cheeks

The first step to cook walleye cheeks is to remove them from the fish. You will need a sharp fillet knife and a cutting board. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Lay the walleye on its side on the cutting board. Make sure the head is facing away from you.
  2. Locate the cheek on the side of the head, below the eye. It is a round piece of meat that is attached to the skull by a thin membrane.
  3. Insert the tip of the knife under the cheek and cut along the edge of the skull. Be careful not to cut into the cheek meat or the eye.
  4. Lift the cheek with your fingers and peel it off the membrane. You may need to use the knife to help you detach it.
  5. Repeat on the other side of the head.
  6. Remove any skin or scales from the cheeks with your knife or scissors.
  7. Rinse the cheeks under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

You can also watch this video[^1^] for a visual demonstration of how to remove walleye cheeks.

How to Prepare Walleye Cheeks for Cooking

Before you cook walleye cheeks, you may want to brine them for about half an hour. Brining is a process of soaking meat in a saltwater solution that enhances its flavor, texture, and moisture retention. Brining also helps prevent overcooking and drying out of the meat.

To brine walleye cheeks, you will need:

  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • Some lemon peel (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the walleye cheeks and make sure they are submerged in the brine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then, drain the brine and rinse the cheeks under cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels and they are ready to cook.

How to Cook Walleye Cheeks

There are many ways to cook walleye cheeks, depending on your preference and taste. Here are some of the most popular methods:

Frying Walleye Cheeks

Frying is one of the easiest and fastest ways to cook walleye cheeks. It gives them a crispy crust and a juicy interior. You can use any oil that has a high smoke point, such as canola, vegetable, or peanut oil. You can also use butter or ghee for extra flavor.

To fry walleye cheeks, you will need:

  • Walleye cheeks (about 6 per person)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cornstarch or flour (about 1/4 cup)
  • Oil or butter (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Lemon wedges and fresh herbs for serving (optional)

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Season the walleye cheeks with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Dredge them lightly in cornstarch or flour, shaking off any excess.
  3. Heat oil or butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  4. Add the walleye cheeks in a single layer and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp.
  5. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  6. Serve hot with lemon wedges and fresh herbs if desired.

You can also try this recipe[^4^] for sauteed walleye cheeks with chive butter, or this recipe[^5^] for garlic walleye “turbo” cheeks with cheese and breadcrumbs.

Baking Walleye Cheeks

Baking is another simple and healthy way to cook walleye cheeks. It allows you to add more flavors and ingredients to the dish, such as vegetables, herbs, spices, cheese, or sauces. You can also make a foil packet to seal in the moisture and prevent the cheeks from drying out.

To bake walleye cheeks, you will need:

  • Walleye cheeks (about 6 per person)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil or butter (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Your choice of seasonings and toppings (such as garlic, onion, lemon, parsley, dill, thyme, rosemary, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cheese, cream, etc.)
  • Aluminum foil

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a baking dish or a baking sheet.
  2. Season the walleye cheeks with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Arrange them in a single layer on the prepared dish or sheet.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with your choice of seasonings and toppings.
  5. If making a foil packet, fold a large piece of aluminum foil in half and place the walleye cheeks in the center. Fold the edges of the foil to seal the packet.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheeks are flaky and cooked through.
  7. Carefully open the foil packet if using and serve hot.

You can also try this recipe for baked walleye cheeks with lemon cream sauce, or this recipe for baked walleye cheeks with parmesan crust.

Grilling Walleye Cheeks

Grilling is another great way to cook walleye cheeks. It gives them a nice charred flavor and a smoky aroma. You can use a gas or charcoal grill, or even a grill pan on the stove. You can also marinate the cheeks before grilling to add more flavor and moisture.

To grill walleye cheeks, you will need:

  • Walleye cheeks (about 6 per person)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil or melted butter (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Your choice of marinade (such as soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Skewers (optional)

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. If using a marinade, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Add the walleye cheeks and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  2. If using skewers, soak them in water for at least 15 minutes to prevent burning. Thread the walleye cheeks onto the skewers, leaving some space between them.
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates.
  4. Season the walleye cheeks with salt and pepper on both sides.
  5. Brush them with olive oil or melted butter and place them on the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until charred and cooked through.
  6. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

Making Walleye Cheek Soup

Making walleye cheek soup is another delicious way to enjoy this delicacy. You can use any broth or stock that you like, such as chicken, vegetable, fish, or seafood. You can also add other ingredients to make it more hearty and flavorful, such as potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, corn, cream, cheese, bacon, etc.

To make walleye cheek soup, you will need:

  • Walleye cheeks (about 6 per person)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter or oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Your choice of broth or stock (about 4 cups)
  • Your choice of vegetables and seasonings (such as potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, corn, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, etc.)
  • Cream or milk (about 1/2 cup)
  • Cheese (optional)

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Season the walleye cheeks with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Heat butter or oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the walleye cheeks and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. In the same pot, add more butter or oil if needed and saute your choice of vegetables and seasonings for about 10 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.
  4. Add the broth or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Return the walleye cheeks to the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
  6. Stir in the cream or milk and cheese if using. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.

You can also try this recipe for creamy walleye cheek chowder, or this recipe for spicy walleye cheek soup with coconut milk and curry.

Walleye Cheek Nutrition Facts

Walleye cheeks are not only delicious, but also nutritious. They are low in fat and calories, but high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health, brain function, and inflammation reduction. Walleye cheeks also contain other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, and iron.

Here is a table that shows the nutrition facts of walleye cheeks per 100 grams (raw):

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 97 5%
Fat 1.4 g 2%
Saturated Fat 0.3 g 2%
Cholesterol 58 mg 19%
Sodium 54 mg 2%
Potassium 392 mg 11%
Carbohydrate 0 g 0%
Fiber 0 g 0%
Sugar 0 g 0%
Protein 20.4 g 41%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 0 mg