Bill Montagne, Chef de Cuisine | Nico Osteria, Chicago
One of the most popular items at Nico Osteria, an upscale Italian seafood restaurant, is the fish collar. This cut is basically the fatty meat around a fish’s clavicle or collarbone. It is a mix of meat, bone and skin that sits just behind the gills, runs on either side of the base of the fish’s head and includes pectoral fins.
The menu item was inspired by a meal he’d had at Katsu, a now-closed Japanese restaurant that featured a hamachi collar dish. “Why aren’t we doing something like this?” Montagne remembers asking himself. The dish starts with a deeply flavored glaze for the fish, in order to reinforce the umami flavors that come from the collar. It is then finished with a spice mix, grilled until crispy, and served with red onion agrodolce and charred lemons.
“We bring in incredible quality fish for our crudo program, so it really makes sense for us to serve these collars as well,” says Montagne.