“Yellowtail collars have a lot of great dense, fatty flesh and they’re really succulent,” says chef Vinny Dotolo of Animal and Son of a Gun. “They lend themselves to a lot of different applications of flavors.” The collar is cut from just behind the gills and is typically cooked on the bone, imparting a rich, steak-like flavor. When roasted, the skin achieves a nutty crunch. Fish collars are a common sight on Japanese menus, but until now they’ve remained scarce on Western plates. Recently, the inexpensive cut has gained fans among eco-conscious (and cost conscious) restaurants that source their fish whole.
“Collars for us are a byproduct of the fish we are already using, so it’s utilization of the entire fish at the restaurant,” says Dotolo. “We are respecting the creature by using the whole thing.”
Chef Josef Centeno at Lazy Ox Canteen serves his collar (sourced from whatever fish is on the menu that night) simply grilled alongside an herb-flecked salad of lentils and lima beans. In another Little Tokyo eatery, Izakaya Haru Ulala, hamachi kama (tuna collars) arrive lightly blackened, paired with a lemon wedge, grated radish and a bowl of salty cured seaweed. At Son of a Gun, the cut is a frequent daily special, where the chefs encourage diners to bite into the collar as they would a pork rib.
To cook tuna collar at home, check out Seafood City or Fish King in Glendale, or one of L.A.’s Japanese markets such as Marukai, Mitsuwa, or Nijiya. The rule of thumb is the larger the fish, the richer the collar. For best results, grill or broil over high heat, ensuring the outer skin develops an even char. As with any fresh fish, a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon are perfectly apt companions.