The Talking Dish: Blue Plate Taco

Blue Plate Taco from Spoon West on Vimeo.

Executive Chef Nikolai Trigueros prepares some of his classic dishes:
Mixto Tostada
Pork Belly Tacos
Butterflied Branzino

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Photos by M. Louie

If you’ve been to any of the Blue Plate restaurants then you already know these guys are all about seafood and all about quality. This is no small thing when you’re talking about restaurants in the heart of Santa Monica’s tourist district.

Being across the street from the beach and a stones throw from the pier pretty much guarantees a certain amount of business but, the Blue Plate brands have earned their “locals-love” by always delivering consistently delicious food, great service and a laid back atmosphere.

My visit with Chef Nikolai Trigueros started with one of his family’s favorites, Mixto Tostada. He describes his fond childhood memories of eating this soup-like ceviche with soda crackers.

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He serves the mixture of lobster, shrimp, calamari, cilantro and lime with fresh made corn chips. It’s about three in the afternoon and the sun is just starting to make it’s way to the water across the street. I bite into my loaded down chip and the cool lime and delicately cooked calamari fill me with the onset of an early happy hour. When you try this, and you should, make sure to have it with one of their delicious margaritas.

Lets talk about these Pork Belly Tacos. If you listen to the entire interview you will surely notice that I am 1. fascinated by the fact that Chef Nikolai brines his pork in orange Fanta and 2. that I become very quiet because I can’t stop eating bite after bite of this pork-a-licious taco. Being from the south, I love anything with pork and am loving that pork belly is FINALLY “en vogue” on the west coast. For me, the Fanta gave this a hint of Hawaii along with the traditional California “beach taco” vibe.

Last but not least, the Butterflied & Boned Branzino. This is a difficult trick. I have tried this many times at home and always fail miserably. I tried to get Chef Nikko (as he’s called by staff and friends) to reveal some secrets for boning a fish but all I got was “good knife skills”, something he knows a lot about after working years in a sushi restaurant.

Even though the fish is fried, it has a very light clean taste.
” Everybody loves a fried fish taco but we wanted to keep it light so we don’t batter our fish but we do lightly flour it so it gets a nice but light crispy coat” explains Chef Nikko. ” We serve the fish whole but what people like to do is take some of the fsh and put it in one of the flour tortillas and add a little of the chimichurri to make their own fish tacos.”

The chimichurri sauce is another one of those delicious details; a cross between a traditional Guatemalan green salsa and a chimichurri, this modernization of the classic Argentinian dipping sauce is just one of the many shining stars at Blue Plate Taco.

 

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