Cod Cheek Recipe With Pickled Cucumber and Kefir

Dean Parker’s cod cheeks, pickled cucumber and kefir

  • serves 4 as a starter
  • Easy

This impressive starter idea comes from chef Dean Parker, it's a great way to start using kefir



  • cod cheeks 4 skinless, patted dry with kitchen paper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • lemon ¼, zested and juiced
  • dill ½ a bunch, chopped
  • gherkin 1, chopped
  • fresh horseradish root grated to make 1 tsp


  • mint 10 leaves, chopped 
  • bay leaves 2
  • black peppercorns 12
  • golden caster sugar 15g
  • salt 6g
  • sauternes wine 50ml
  • cucumber ½, thinly sliced with a veg peeler


  • kefir 150ml
  • crème fraîche 50g


  • gherkin brine 50ml (from the jar)
  • chervil or parsley a small handful of leaves
  • sorrel or rocket ½ a handful
  • olive oil 50ml


  • olive oil for frying
  • panko breadcrumbs 4 tbsp


  • Step 1

    To make the pickle, put everything except the cucumber into a small pan with 200ml of water, and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the cucumber, leave to cool, then cover in clingfilm and chill.

  • Step 2

    Mix the kefir and crème fraîche and season. Cover and chill.

  • Step 3

    To make the split dressing, put all the ingredients into a small blender and whizz until it forms a purée. Season and chill.

  • Step 4

    Remove the cod from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to bring up to room temperature.

  • Step 5

    For the crumb, heat a drizzle of oil in a frying pan, then add the breadcrumbs and fry until lightly golden. Scoop out, drain on kitchen paper, and season.

  • Step 6

    Lightly season the cod cheeks with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan to very hot, and add 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Put the cod cheeks into the pan, and once golden (about a minute), turn them over, take the pan off the hob and leave the cheeks in the pan for 5 minutes, to cook in the residual heat. Put the cheeks in a small bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan, put back on the heat, and deglaze it. Pour over the cod cheeks. Add the dill, gherkins, lemon zest and grated horseradish, and toss gently with the cod.

  • Step 7

    Spoon the kefir across half the bases of 4 small, shallow bowls, drizzle the dressing over and marble with a spoon.

  • Step 8

    Put 2 pickled cucumber pieces on the uncovered side of plate. Spoon the cod cheeks on and lightly sprinkle the crumb over.

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 394
  • Fat 23.2g
  • Saturates 6.2g
  • Carbs 14g
  • Sugars 3.1g
  • Fibre 1.5g
  • Protein 30.7g
  • Salt 2.2g