Fish and Seafood, Gluten-free

Grilled Halibut Cheek Pouches

Loreto July 21, 2018

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Grilled Halibut Cheek Pouches, they say that anything close to the bone has amazing flavor, well these succulent morsels of fish that once were nestled in the cheek of a halibut are now steamed beautifully in a pouch of herbs and flavors wonderfully grilled on the BBQ!

Song of the day: “Memories” by Elvis Presley.

grilled Halibut cheeks pouches

Grilled Halibut Cheek Pouches, redefine how fish can be so moist, flaky, and succulent. By creating a cooked marinade and placing it on the plump halibut cheeks in a tight aluminum foil steaming pouch, and cooking it on a nice hot grill, we get elevated flavor upon flavor for a beautiful outdoor rustic meal. Add in a pouch of herbed potatoes and your dish is complete!



Grilled halibut cheeks, if you would have said that years ago you would have gotten a strange look, but this day and age you would get this look of delight and gratification. For those who eat fish whole and done on the barbecue, they will tell you the bones give so much more flavor than just a fillet. I have to agree and I have a bit of a story to tell you. When Nicoletta and I were in Positano we went to this mountaintop restaurant overlooking the bay on the Amalfi Coast. I had a wonderful fish cooked on a wood fire barbecue or as Italians call it alla brace pronounced “bratche'” I have to tell you that was the best-tasting fish I have ever had. I cleaned every little bit of charred fish off those bones, it was most enjoyable.

The first time I had fish cheeks ever was at a local Japanese restaurant called Shogun a long time ago. This was my first real sushi experience plus the friend I went there with knew the chef and she asked him to cook up some tuna cheeks for us. Those cheeks were out of this world good, so tender and juicy and the spices he used just married well with the profile of the tuna. I also had some fish cheeks in Vancouver and that was also truly delicious. I was sold on fish cheeks. Fast forward a few years standing looking at what Ocean Odyssey was offering for fresh fish and I saw these halibut cheeks. I immediately thought of my experiences and wanted to create my own dish using the cheeks. You can guess and it would be easy to answer if I asked you what was in our market bag that day? For those of you that said fish cheeks you are absolutely correct! lol.

grilled Halibut cheeks pouches

Look at those halibut cheeks, don’t they look so fresh and incredible. I can’t wait to get started. We will need fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, thinly sliced garlic, capers, fennel tops, purple onion, and of course some salt and pepper for seasoning, and to finish, a nice white wine, some for me and a little for the sauteed onions and capers.

grilled Halibut cheeks pouches

Love the color of the sauce that is going to grace the Grilled Halibut Cheeks. Nice caramelized red onion, that punch from the capers and that aromatic white wine. All we need to do is to season the cheeks with some salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place the fish on the aluminum foil and spoon some of the sauce on. A quick fold of the pouch and a preheated BBQ, and we are set to cook these babies!

While these are cooking I will share a little of my childhood with you. I spent a lot of time fishing with my mom, dad, uncles, and aunts. It seemed like every weekend we were going to a lake fishing. One particular time when I was around 10, I think, I had the catch of my life. I had one of those toy fishing rods. I was casting out and reeling my hook back in taking care not to hook anyone close to me. My brother got hooked by someone once, yes right on his upper forearm, but that’s another story. Anyway, I am reeling in and all of a sudden my rod bends right over and I am screaming “I GOT ONE! I GOT ONE!” My dad came and we tried to reel in but my toy rod was not doing very well with what was on the other end. My dad said just walk back and hold steady. My uncle was there too watching and all of a sudden this thing surfaces and it looks like a big log. Then a mouth opens wide and my uncle says OMG it is a fish and a huge monster at that. I pulled that sucker right to the beach and it was huge. To make a long story short, 50 fillets and bones under a school spruce tree that we planted in the front of the house that now stands 50-60 feet tall, slightly exaggerated, lol. That’s my fish story, I hope you enjoyed it.

Now it is time to take our pouches off the grill and also the potatoes pouch which I slipped in there with the fish prep. A nice pouch of yellow potatoes all steamed and roasted at the same time with some rosemary and garlic for infusion flavoring.

Halibut cheeks

I am so excited to open the pouches. A little anxiety about whether I over or under cooked the Grilled Halibut Cheeks. Much to my delight, they are cooked perfectly and all those aromas from garlic onion to white wine and capers has me experiencing mouth waters. The potatoes too smell so good with that garlic and rosemary blend. My first bite reveals a flaky moist fish and I love the way the red onion and caper sauce so subtly infused itself into the folds of this lovely halibut. The potatoes are a great side to the grilled fish cheeks and I absolutely love the way the flavor of the sauce and the fish marry so well together. Those tight flavored pouches definitely did their job well.

I highly recommend next time you are at the market and standing in front of the fishmonger’s stand and you see fish cheeks, grab them, they are the most flavorful succulent meaty thing you will ever try. This Grilled Halibut Cheek Pouch won’t let you down, I assure you!


P.S. Dad, if you can hear me, thank you for the wonderful memories and experiences!

Song of the day: “Memories” by Elvis Presley.

Halibut cheeks

Grilled Halibut Cheek Pouches

  • Author: Loreto
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Fish
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean


Grilled Halibut Cheek Pouches, redefine how fish can be so moist, flaky and succulent. By creating a cooked marinade and placing it on the plump halibut cheeks in a tight aluminum foil steaming pouch, and cooking it on a nice hot grill, we get elevated flavor upon flavor for a beautiful outdoor rustic meal. Add in a pouch of herbed potatoes and your dish is complete!


  • Halibut cheeks
  • 2 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of salt-packed capers rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fennel top chopped fine
  • salt and pepper for seasoning the cheeks
  • A glass of white wine


  1. Wash and pat dry Halibut cheeks. Season with salt and pepper both sides.
  2. In a saute pan bring oil and butter to a medium heat. Toss in garlic and let saute for about one minute, then throw in onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, add capers, chopped fennel.
  3. Now for the fun part, a splash of white wine, some for me and some for the sauce, yum it is so good, that the wine you see we make it home brewed. Just a few minutes to get all the flavors mingling well and a final seasoning of salt and pepper and the sauce is done.
  4. Cut foil paper into 10-inch by 5-inch rectangles. Place 4 of the Halibut cheeks onto the foil, spoon sauce on top and close pouch tight.
  5. Place on a preheated grill of 350 degrees F and cook about 5 minutes a side.
  6. While grilled pouches are working their magic I washed and cut up some potatoes, seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper, olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. I place it on the barbecue prior to the Halibut cheeks as the potatoes need some time, approximately 25 minutes.
  7. Take everything off the grill and it is ready to serve.



  1. I did not list the time for the potatoes but if you put them on the heated grill about 15 minutes prior to the fish it will all be ready together.

grilled Halibut cheeks pouches

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  • Reply MARIA from she loves biscotti July 23, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Positano is just a couple of hours away from my husband’s hometown… a truly beautiful city with great restaurants. This is one of my favorite ways to have fish… looks so moist and tasty! Thanks for sharing Loreto ♥

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto July 24, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Maria, I loved Positano, it is so beautiful and the food amazing, definately on our list to visit again. The pouches are a fabulous way to preserve all the flavors of the fish and slowly allow the marinade to do its magic. Thank you for your always lovely comments.
      Have a wonderful day!

  • Reply Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop July 23, 2018 at 9:47 am

    You eat well, Loreto! These halibut cheeks sound amazing. Love a little wine for the dish and a little wine for me! That’s my type of cooking! 🙂

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto July 24, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Kathy, yes thats the way to do it, enjoy cooking have a little wine and laughs all in good fun to infuse the food with some good energy! Thank you Kathy!

  • Reply chef mimi July 23, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Just beautiful. I’ve had fish cheeks at restaurants, definitely won’t be finding them here locally. I love the way you cooked them, and the recipe. I was just mentioning that I tend to forget to cook this way – in foil or parchment packages!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto July 24, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Chef Mimi, I love cooking fish in these pouches. It keeps the fish so moist and tender and the marinade has some time to really get to know the fish. Thank you so much for commenting we love reading and replying to them.

  • Reply Denise from Urb'n'Spice July 23, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    I have a little magnetic sign in my kitchen that says, ” I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” It is the best way to cook. I have also had fish cheeks but only cod, not halibut – yet! I love the idea of halibut cooked in any way, really. Also, cooking in foil or parchment packets is among my favourite cooking techniques. The cooked marinade sounds incredible. This is such a lovely recipe, Loreto. Thank you so much for sharing. Saluti!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto July 24, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      Hi Denise, Thank you so much and I agree you have to have fun in the kitchen and what harm could a little wine tasting be, lol. Only tragic if more wine went into the glass than the dish, lol. I am so glad you like this recipe and here’s to Fish cheeks in any fashion!
      Have a greta day!

  • Reply Ayngelina July 24, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    I’m from Nova Scotia and grew up on fish cheeks, I wish they were as easy to get outside the Maritimes.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto July 26, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Ayngelina I know we are fortunate enough to have some great fish mongers who fly it in. However there are times when it is tough to get. I can only imagine living in the Maritimes, the fish so fresh and tasty! Thank you for your comment.

  • Reply Shareba July 24, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever tried fish cheeks before! They look so tender – great recipe!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto July 26, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Shareba, thank you. The cheeks are amazing for any fish, so succulent and huge flavors and so easy to prepare and make.
      Have a wonderful day!


  • Reply Elaine July 25, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Halibut is SO tasty! My husband occasionally catches one, but we usually have to buy it. It’s pricey, but worth every penny! I love the simple ingredients you’ve used in this recipe! Thanks for sharing your fish story!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto July 26, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you Elaine, I am sure there are some great fish stories out there als. I loved this dish, it simple its easy and it tastes wonderful. What more can youi ask for!
      Cheers Loreto

  • Reply Milena Perrine July 27, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Great idea, Loreto and even better execution. Grilling fish in pouches certainly gives the dish of finesse, just because, but all the amazing flavors you have going on are what is really tempting me to try this recipe. This weekend’s shopping will be fun!

  • Reply Jennifer Pallian July 27, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Sounds delicious!

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