After a couple months break we were back at Collaboration Kitchen. This time it was Chef Miguel Valdez at the helm. He is currently the Executive Chef of The Red Door in Mission Hills where he features produce from the restaurant’s outdoor garden on the nightly menu. Collaboration Kitchen is sponsored by Specialty Produce and Catalina Offshore Products
The before-show prep seemed to go really smoothly and quickly this round. We spent most of our time rolling Opah Meatballs, about 120 of them for the whole course. Other volunteers were busy prepping out spiraled Turnip and cut Snap Peas.
The first dish of the night was Shrimp Bisque with uni foam. Nice pieces of shrimp went really well with the creamy base, and the contrasting taste of uni in the foam on top.
Next was an Arugula salad with Baja Hiramasa, Blood Orange dressing, smoked black Sesame Seeds and roasted Beets. Chef Miguel had prepped out the Hiramasa and roasted Beets before the event. Plating consisted of portioning out the fish on top of the dressing and then giving each a touch of the smoked Sesame Seeds and arugula.
The Smoked BBQ Yellowtail collar with Napa Cabbage Jalapeno slaw was our favorite dish of the night! Each collar was smoked before being topped with a tangy BBQ sauce. So many people in the audience, and even one of our own volunteers had never tried a collar before. It’s truly one of the best parts of the fish with very soft and delicious meat.
Next was a Collaboration Kitchen staple, the Sashimi course. Tommy broke down a whole Hiramasa Yellowtail and paired it with his secret weapon, a Yuzu-Wasabi dressing. If you don’t come running with a fork to dig into the fish, it’ll be gone before you know it. This was also a great time to get a look at some unique and incredible fish that Dan Natrass of Fishbone Kitchen (formerly at COP) was showcasing. There was Black Cod, California Halibut, Pink Grouper, Hiramasa Yellowtail, Monchong, and the star, a 140lb Opah!
After the break it was back to more courses like the Opah Meatballs with Turnip pasta, Fennel, Parmesan Cheese, Snap Peas and Chimichurri. If you’ve never tried Opah, you’re missing out on one of the most versatile fish on the market today. The ground Opah Tri-tip, a signature cut from COP, has the hearty consistency of ground beef and can take the place of any ground meat in a dish. Here as a meatball, it was firm with a crunchy exterior from frying. You can easily forget you’re actually eating fish.
The last course of the night was a Walnut-crusted Opah with Beet puree, smoked Carrots, fried Kale and a citrus beurre blanc. It’s another example of Opah standing up to the earthy beet and kale flavors, and taking on a great sear with the Walnut crust.
The beneficiary of the night’s event was Tour de Fresh. Rider Rodger Harrington accepted on their behalf with proceeds going towards putting salad bars in school across the nation. Rodger works specifically with San Diego Unified School District to help our local gets get better food. Collaboration Kitchen would never be possible without all of the volunteers that work behind the scenes to prep, plate, serve and clean. Standing up in front of the guests and being able to see how much they enjoyed the evening is worth every second!
If you would like to see more behind the scenes from Collaboration Kitchen be sure to check out our other articles: