I came up with this dish because the fish monger  asked me if I like cheeks. I thought he meant halibut cheeks.  Although halibut is in season, he offered me  fresh grouper cheeks. I was delighted.  The most tender part of an animal or fish are the "cheeks."   Beef, veal, and lamb cheeks are especially tender.  I had some lychees and knew they would make a nice relish for the grouper cheeks.  The flavors of this recipe are definitely Thai or Vietnamese.  This entree makes  a great starter for dinner. Halibut cheeks  are a delicious substitute for grouper which is harder to find. 

4 pc grouper cheeks

4 lychee peeled, seeded and julienned

1/4 cup mango, julienned

1 tbsp mint, julienned

1 red radish, julienned

1 tbsp tamarind puree

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp lime juice

salt and pepper 

For the cheeks, season with salt on both sides and place skin side down in a small saute pan on medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil.  Cook for 5 minutes on the skin side to crisp the skin.  Flip over for 10 seconds and remove the cheeks from the pan.  

Place the mango, mint, lychee, and lime juice in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  

To serve,  place a teaspoon of tamarind in each spoon.  Place the cheeks on top.  Place the lychee relish on top of the fish.  If you want to add a little heat,  place a serrano or thai chile slice on top.  Also I tried a little roasted peanut on top, and that was a delicious variation.  This appetizer or starter adds an impressive pop of taste and color to any meal.

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