Cooking Live With Chef Victoriano Lopez

First Republic Bank
October 28, 2020

Watch Executive Chef Victoriano Lopez and Executive Sous Chef Javier Cussato, from La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. They will share some of their favorite Peruvian dishes: cebiche clasico, tiradito verde and churrasco de pescado. We look forward to celebrating this month with you.

Read below for a full transcript of the conversation. 

Jason Bender - Greetings from San Francisco. We're excited to have you join us today for our cooking demonstration in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. First Republic is honored to celebrate this special month and for our guests joining today, Hispanic Heritage Month begins each year on September 15th and runs through October 15th. It's intended to honor the contributions and influence of Latinx and Latin Americans to the history and the culture and the achievements of the United States. And what better way to learn about Latin culture than through food? Today, we have La Mar Restaurant, which is located here in San Francisco at Pier 1 1/2 to demonstrate some delicious Peruvian cuisine for us. So for those of you who don't know, Peruvian cuisine is heavily influenced by the many ethnic backgrounds found throughout Peru. The blending of these cultures with Peru's unusually large variety of climates, geographies and agriculture makes Peruvian cuisine one of the most varied and nuanced, and certainly delicious cuisines in the entire world. La Mar's signature menu items range from unique seafood, meat and vegetarian selections that showcase Executive Chef Victoriano Lopez's dedication to sea-to-table cooking. I know from personal experience that the empanadas are absolutely amazing, so try them if you haven't had a chance to. It's really a great honor to have Chef Lopez and Executive Sous Chef Cussato here today. Thank you both very much. And without further ado, I will now turn it over to our chefs.

Executive Sous Chef Javier Cussato - Okay. Good afternoon everybody, welcome. My name Javier Cussato. I am the executive sous chef of La Mar. We’re gonna be doing three different dishes out of one same fish. So we're gonna start doing the leche de tigre. What we need for leche de tigre? We're gonna need some fish remnants. So all the fish that we get extra from our different cuts. We're gonna need some celery. Which I'm gonna put on the table so you can see it. We're gonna also need some cilantro stems. When you pick your leaves, your cilantro leaves you're gonna get the stems which we can use for the leche de tigre. We're gonna need some fresh pepper also. We're gonna use habanero pepper. We're gonna use some garlic cloves. And some onion, as we call it, hearts, or the core part of the onion. And ginger, fresh ginger, the freshest you have. So when we use fresh peppers in the leche de tigre, just because we're trying to maintain the flavor of a raw pepper, you're trying to maintain the flavor and the spiciness of a raw pepper. In Peru we use an aji limo, which is a type of pepper, very Peruvian. And here you can find it frozen, but we decided to use habaneros, because I just said, to maintain the flavor of raw pepper and the freshness, the crispness of the pepper as well. So we're gonna start, I'm gonna start showing you how we are supposed to do the limes.

Here at La Mar we do it very, in a very specific way. So we grab the lime and cut it in three different places, containing the center part out of the equation. We get this out of the equation just because we don't want to get the bitterness out of this. So the bitter part of the lime is here in the center. You can see this white little part where we get the bitterness out of the lime, all right? So we get three different pieces. And we squeeze it by lime. It’s really important to squeeze it by lime. Squeeze it by hand, sorry. Because you want to get all the juices also from the skin of lime, because that gives you aroma, that gives you a special flavor for the cibiche as well. So we're gonna start running our blender. We're gonna add the lime juice. Very important that we squeeze it by hand not by a machine. We're also gonna do some filtered water. At La Mar we use fish stock that we do. Very gentle fish stock, very clear. It hasn't had to be too strong. You don't want that fishy kind of flavor of stock. So that's why we do a very clear fish stock. But today I am using filtered water which it also works very well. So we're gonna do lime juice. We're gonna do the water. We're gonna put the celery, garlic, fresh ginger. We're gonna take the stems out of the habanero pepper. We're gonna break it just a little bit so it can blend very well. And the onions.

All right? We're gonna use the fish remnants, put it inside, gonna blend everything. We’re gonna add just a little bit more water. And also we're gonna do ice. Okay, ice is very important for us to keep the leche de tigre super cold. The leche de tigre doesn't get warm. Because it will last a lot longer if you keep it super, super cold. So we call it leche de tigre, because it resembles, would say like a milk texture, a milk color. It’s kind of…It's very, very white and we call it leche de tigre, you would translate to English as tiger's milk. Because it empowers you, probably the next day after your party and you wanna cure your hangover. This would give you like an excellent punch for you to begin your day or to keep going during your day. So very important, almost forgetting this right. You need to add salt, a decent amount of salt for you to break the protein and create that white texture resembling like milk. Okay, so now, we're gonna blend the leche de tigre. We're just gonna give it a quick blending. And then we're gonna strain it. Now, if you noticed, I didn't put the cilantro stems in the beginning. This is because you don't want to get color out of the cilantro stems. You just wanna break them with the pulse button in your blender. So you can just grab the flavors and infuse the cilantro taste in your leche de tigre. So we're just gonna break it with the pulse button, just a couple of times. And now we're gonna strain. We’re gonna use a spoon. You can see the color from there. It looks like milk and that's why we call it tiger's milk, leche de tigre. And this is gonna be our base for our cebiche. So if we would go back in time, let's say 20 years in the past, you would go to Peru and you will find that people would make cebiche probably two hours before they were gonna sit and have it.

Or, maybe from last night. And this is because by that time, people used to prepare it, marinating the fish for a long time, over a long periods of hours. For then, because they thought that the lime would cook the fish. But this is completely incorrect. The fish would just get marinated by the lime and the protein would get, break into this kind of consistency. But this changed probably by the late eighties, when the Japanese arrived to Peru and they brought us their culture and we mixed it. And now we are doing more fresh fish. We are doing…now we eat it more fresh, we eat it completely raw and we just marinate the fish for probably one or two minutes just before we do. Now we're gonna start with the cebiche. We have brought a local halibut for this. It's about a pound. You need to make sure when you get fish from your fish market or your fish vendor that the fish texture is really firm. So if you get a filet it needs to be super, super firm for you to know that it is super fresh. If you get that whole fish, you need to make sure that the gills are super red. Also the eyes needs to be super brighty. And the texture as well needs to be firm, all right? So we're gonna cube this fish. This size, actually, it just gonna be, how do you like to eat the fish. Right? If you make big chunks of fish, you're gonna feel more the texture, of the firmness and the taste of the fish. If you do it smaller, then marinade it’s gonna be a lot quicker. So we're gonna finish cutting this fish to start making our cebiche. The ingredient you're gonna need are basically the same that we used for the leche de tigre. We're gonna need fresh celery, we're gonna do some chopped habanero pepper. And we're gonna garnish it very traditional as we would do it in Peru. Okay, with sweet potatoes. And I'm gonna show you also a Peruvian type of corn that we brought and it's very unique. So we’re now gonna put the fish into the bowl, we're gonna add some salt. And we're gonna mix it.

We're going to add fresh celery, chopped celery. We're gonna add habanero pepper. Very important, the lime that we cut in the beginning, we're gonna use it to marinade also the fish. We're gonna squeeze the three pieces of lime, so essentially it's one lime. All right. We're gonna mix it just to pre-marinate the fish. Now we're gonna plate it. So in Peru, very traditional type of, let’s say, a grandmother's cebiche, would be using lettuce leaves in the bottom. I would say probably they would consider it a salad before, but it is not a salad. All right. I'm gonna put our cebiche in the middle, just a little bit. And we're gonna add also red onions. As I said, we're gonna use essentially the same ingredients that we were using in the beginning. Some red onions. We're gonna add some of our leche de tigre. Finally marinate the fish. And we are gonna plate it all. All right? Very important, all the juices from the leche de tigre. We also want to add some more, to be very juicy. So us Peruvians recommend doing the cebiche with a spoon. I would actually offend myself when I see someone eating cebiche with chopsticks. For me at least, it will be very offensive because you want to grab all the juices. You want to grab the fish. You want to grab the onions, the peppers, all the flavor. All right? So we're gonna finish it with some Peruvian corn. This is white corn, giant kernels, if you can see. It's not hominy, but it's very similar to it. Traditionally in Peru, we serve it with this type of corn. Let’s say you’re at home. Okay. I'm gonna plate just a couple pieces on the side. Also, we're gonna do some baked sweet potatoes. For some people the sweet potatoes are for you to actually relieve the spiciness of the cebiche. So if you're eating a very spicy cebiche, the sweet potato will help you to end with the spices. We're also gonna do just some onions on the top to finish it. And we're gonna break some cilantro. We're gonna finish it to give it some green color. You also can garnish it with a slice of a habanero pepper on top for you to make it a little prettier. Let me cut up some habaneros. So we can finish it, all right? Very fresh pepper. If you can cut the peppers just when you're gonna plate your cebiche, it's gonna be a lot better just because you're gonna have all the freshness and the crispness and of the pepper. So this is the cebiche classico.

Sous Chef Cussato - Good afternoon everybody, Welcome back. My name's Javier Cussato. I am the executive sous chef of La Mar. Today, here we are making three different dishes out of a whole local halibut. All right. So now we're gonna start doing our tiradito. If you say, tiradito, if you say tirado, it means that you are laying something over a certain surface. So today we're gonna be doing fish tiradito. So we're gonna be laying our fish on top a plate. So we're gonna do our tiradito verde, or green tiradito. As we all know, what is trending now its people trying to be the healthiest as possible. So we try to imitate the green juices that we all know that we all can find everywhere and everybody's making, here at the restaurant. So we are making our tiradito verde, our green tiradito. And we have used baby kale, we have used celery, onions, ginger, lime juice for sure. And we also call it leche de tigre, even though it doesn't have any fish in the preparation, because it's completely vegan. We have also called it leche de tigre just because we are marinating the fish as in a cebiche. So we are gonna start with halibut filet. Same as the cebiche. This is about a pound, probably we're not gonna use all of it. But we're gonna start cutting the cebiche. Cutting the fish for the tiradito, I'm sorry. So what you need to find out where the connective tissue is towards to. So you're gonna go against of it. You need to find the piece of the fish, if we would have the whole fish over here we're gonna know that the tail is over here just because we notice that the connective tissue is going toward the tail. So we're gonna start cutting our fish. As I said, we're gonna do very similar to sashimi, but sashimi style is gonna be thicker. We're gonna do tiradito style, which is gonna be a lot thinner.

We're going to do about 16 pieces of fish. Very important to be very consistent on the cut. Just to give you a little fact from the past, in Peru, the most original tiradito, it's made out of a small type of fish that you would call it pejerrey.  In that case, you would need the whole fish because it's a very tiny fish that you could eat also the bones and maybe sometimes the head. And we would serve it with an amarillo leche de tigre, of course that preparation would have fish. Just because it would be the same sauce as we use for the cebiche. But here we have switch just a little bit the recipe and we have made our own. In this tiradito, we are not using any Peruvian ingredient. We are using mostly local ingredients. And we have fusion our cuisine with local produce and products from the area. So we have 16 pieces of fish. We're gonna plate it right now. So we're gonna lay all the pieces over the plate. It doesn't matter, how you would look nice. You would like to have order in the disorder of the plate. It's kind of a word puzzle, but that's what you want. You want to find some fish, some, most of the garnish that we're gonna put in only one bite. So that's why we're gonna try to use most of the space of the plate. So we're gonna try to use most of the plate to make it look nice. Find all the spots that we can for the fish to fit. Give it some height, also. Because in Peru, a tiradito, it's a very flat type of plate. You would lay the tiradito or the fish over the plate completely flat. But now, here at La Mar, we trying to give me some height to make it prettier, to make it more fun to serve.

So now we're going to make our leche de tigre for the tiradito. We have our fish already cut. It's laying down in our plate and we have kept it in the fridge so it can stay super, super cold, that's what we want. So for the leche de tigre, even though, as I said, it has not any fish, any type of fish in the leche de tigre, we still call it leche de tigre just because we are marinating the fish of our tiradito. So today we're gonna do our green leche de tigre. Or leche de tigre verde, if you wanna call it in Spanish. And we're gonna use basically the same ingredients for the cebiche, we're not gonna use any onions though. And we're gonna use celery, okay, fresh celery. We're gonna use some garlic as well, garlic cloves, and gonna use fresh ginger. All right. Also we call it green because we are using um baby kale leaves and jalapeno peppers. All right. We're gonna use as garnish cherry tomatoes and radishes. All right. So just to remind you, it's very important to cut the lime in three pieces. Just as what we did with the cebiche. Leaving the core out of the squeezing. This is the bitter part. And we're gonna keep these three limes just to finish our tiradito. So for the leche de tigre we're gonna start doing lime, same as the cebiche, leche de tigre for the cebiche. We're gonna do some water also. Filtered water. As I said, here at La Mar for the cebiche, for regular cebiche we're gonna use fish stock. As this is tiradito with the leche de tigre with no fish at all, we are doing distilled water. You could also do it with a vegetable stock that you could use at home. You can do, not carrots because that would change the color of the leche de tigre, but you can do onions, garlic, ginger, some leeks as well for you to do a veggie stock. So we have added the water, we have added the lime.

We're going to do some salt as well. Very important. We're gonna do the celery, we're gonna do garlic. I would say probably, depending on the size of the cloves, three to four. We're gonna do a jalapeno pepper, which we're gonna cut in half. And we're gonna get rid of the veins and the core parts of the jalapeno, okay, no seeds, unless, do you really like it really spicy and want to keep it seeds. But I would say probably, is just spicy enough if you take the seeds so you can enjoy the tiradito. So you're gonna take both of the jalapeno's seeds. You would probably would like to use gloves when you are doing this, because you can keep some of the spiciness of the pepper in your hands and it's gonna be very painful and you grab your face or your other hand, it will make it burn for at least a couple hours. I'm gonna clean just a little bit. So we're gonna put our jalapeno peppers and we're gonna do our baby kale to make it really, really green. Now we're gonna blend it. You're gonna reserve just in a cup for us to finish our plate. So now we have our fish back from the fridge. Super cold. We're gonna add some salt on top of it, all right? Just a little bit, a tiny bit. I'm gonna squeeze a couple of our limes that we cut at the beginning. All right. We're gonna add our leche de tigre. As we can see, it is a green leche de tigre. And we're gonna garnish it with some cherry tomatoes, to make it look better. Some taste of the tomatoes to make it super fresh. And also some radishes, these will make the tiradito a lot more crispy, a little tender, the texture of the radishes, alright? As I said, we wanted to make it look messy, but in a very, not that messy way. Right? So you're gonna grab a bite of fish with tomatoes, with the radishes, for you to enjoy all the flavors. This, I would also recommend 100% to eat it with a spoon because you wanna to enjoy all the juices and the fish and the garnishes. Alright, very important. If you can do, cut your peppers just before you're gonna use them. So the freshness is gonna be a lot more recent, then chop your peppers and then just keep it in the fridge. We're also gonna grab some cilantro leaves so we can finish our tiradito. There you go. This is our tiradito verde.

Sous Chef Cussato- Welcome back everybody. We're here today at La Mar. My name is Javier Cussato, executive sous chef of La Mar. So what we're gonna do move right now, it's our main dish. So essentially we're gonna do a chuleton de pescado, which is essentially a fish steak. So we keep the bone from the spine and we serve it as as a fish steak. So today we're gonna be searing the fish in our pan, and we're gonna prepare our risotto. And also we're gonna do an aji amarillo type of sauce that we are gonna add some limes, some cilantro. We're gonna make it taste a little bit, or with a cebiche profile. And it's gonna be on top of our fish and dripping all over our risotto. So we're gonna start with some of the ingredients. We're gonna do some white onions for our risotto. Also we're gonna do arborio rice. We have it pre-cooked and ready. What you can do at home is a pre-cook your arborio rice, or do your risotto type of technique, like Italian way. You're gonna sweat the onions, you're gonna deglaze with some wine, add the rice and keep adding stock until you find the perfect texture and consistency for your risotto. But we have it pre-cooked today so we can make the plate a lot easier and we can show you in a better and faster way for you to learn it. We're also gonna do some artichoke pieces that we have done here at home. I'm gonna show you how to clean the artichokes so you can do it also at home and just keep the core out of the vegetable and use it and use it in your dishes. We're also gonna do fresh green peas in the end for our sauce. For sure, we're gonna do aji amarillo pepper paste.

We have prepare it here at La Mar. So by this time of the year, by end of October, beginning of November, we can find fresh aji amarillo pepper here at the farmer's market right next to us, which is amazing. This is like a luxury for us because usually you only find aji amarillo peppers frozen and the quality and the taste are not the same as you find in the fresh product. So we can get it here at the farmer's market around October, November. So this is a good time of the year for us to get it. Obviously, for some are gonna start. We already had some and we have made our own paste. We have process it for us to get all the spices out and we can enjoy the flavor, the sweetness and the tartness of the aji amarillo. So now, as I said, I'm gonna show you how to clean your artichoke. It's super easy. You need to grab the artichoke and start peeling all the leaves out, trying just to keep them the core part of it. So just gonna be rounding the artichoke, we call it part or core. So get all the leaves out. We're gonna get this out of here. Now what you wanna do is get just right by the base of the leaves, the actual leaves containing the core. Now you get just the tip of the stem and you're gonna start peeling all the green parts of the artichoke. You're just gonna keep the core part of the actual vegetable. For you to know, the actual artichoke it's a flower. So we grabbed the flower in it's special state. So that's why we call it still a vegetable, but it's actually the flower of artichoke. You also can find that in the farmer's market, super fresh. It is a purple type of flower. Very beautiful. So you take all the green part of the core of the artichoke and with a spoon, what you're gonna try to do at once is take core part, or the insides. You need to be careful because these would get in your hand super easily. You wanna get gloves for you to protect yourself, just because this will be as splinters in your hand. They're very, very thin. Try to get the most out of it. And if you wanna do this in advance, I would recommend for you to keep it in water with some lime juice, with the limes inside. And with some leaves of parsley as well. Because leaves the parsley have some acidity that will maintain the artichoke very, very white. And not obviously aging that fast.

Now we're going to start with our fish. Gonna use some oil. Make sure that your pan is super hot. We're gonna salt the fish. And as soon as we start searing the fish, you're gonna get the temperature a little down. And we're just gonna leave it in a low temperature. Very gentle, cooking by itself. Now we're gonna do our sauce. We're gonna add some amarillo pepper in our pan. We're gonna do some white wine and our clear, very gentle fish stock. Just a little. Salt, for sure. And then at the end we're gonna add the green peas. We're gonna give it some time for it to reduce. We’re gonna put it aside. And in the meantime, we're gonna start doing our risotto. So we're gonna add some olive oil. And we're gonna start sweating our white onions. We're gonna add our artichoke pieces. Also sweat them a little bit. You can see that we are forming a crust on the fish. That's what we want. So at first it needs to be super hot for it to produce a crust in the fish and as soon as we're gonna turn it, we're just gonna leave it in a very low heat as well for us to continue doing our sauce and our risotto. You need to make sure that your onions are very, very sweaty. When you're sweating onions or making, lets say, a sofrito, in Spanish terms, you need to make sure that the onions are super well cooked just because this wouldn't make your food taste bitter. You don't want the bitterness out of the onions so you wanna cook them super, super well. Now we're gonna add, we're gonna deglaze with some white wine. We're gonna add our risotto. We're gonna add some fish stock as well. We're gonna turn the heat up and let it get the risotto consistency and the texture and we're gonna finish it with some olive oil before we plate. So now we're gonna turn our fish. Which right now it should be ready for us to turn it. Okay. As you can see, the crust is golden brown, exactly what we want. What you wanna get it, if you get yours super, super hot in the beginning, and then you turn the heat a little down for you to finish. You're gonna add some salt to our risotto.

Okay. And as I said, as we have the rice precooked, it's gonna be super quick. As soon as it starts boiling, we're gonna have almost that consistency. Probably we're gonna add some stock, some more stock for us to not let it dry. And we're gonna finish our sauce. We're gonna add some more fish stock. And it's about it, it's almost gone. Okay, our fish is almost done. We're gonna set it aside so we can finish our sauce. We're gonna bring it to a boil. Risotto's almost done as well. We're gonna turn this off. We're gonna finish it with some olive oil. Okay. This is the consistency you want. We haven't add any cream or butter, but it needs to look creamy, needs to look juicy. We're gonna heat it up a little bit just before we're gonna plate it. Now we're gonna focus on this sauce. So we're gonna bring it to a boil. Gonna start working on the garnishes. So we're gonna use some aji pepper as well for us to finish our dish. We're gonna make a little salad with some baby kale. Okay, our sauce is about to boil. We're gonna finish it with some green peas. And as I said, we're gonna make it a little abicechada or with a cebiche type of profile flavor. All right, flavor profile. We're gonna add some lime juice as well. We want it a little limey. We’re gonna have some baby kale, cherry tomatoes, add some salt, olive oil and we're gonna squeeze just a little bit of lime on top. That's gonna be our salad. And we are going to include some radishes in the mix. So our sauce is done, risotto, we're just gonna bring it to one last boil before we plate it. This is the texture you want. Remember, very creamy, very juicy even though we haven't add any cream or butter, we have made our risotto vegan. Okay, so for the plating, we're gonna start with our risotto in the middle. The artichokes are gonna give you a very nice texture on the rice. It's very simple, but the main character of this dish is gonna be the fish for sure, and the aji amarillo sauce. So you don't want to expose the risotto that much on the plate. So we're gonna do our fish. On top. You can also infuse the sauce with some cilantro, for you to have the cilantro profile, flavor profile in the back. But I would say you wouldn't need it for this. Like I said, we're gonna finish it with a small salad on top. Baby kale, cherry tomatoes, and radish slices. Okay. These will give you freshness. This will give you an extra kick of lime in your dish. And this is how we present it at La Mar.

Suzie Shqair - Thank you so much. Thank you Chef Lopez and Chef Cussato for your wonderful cooking demonstration today. I'm sure everyone is excited to try to make these at home. We greatly appreciate you and your team for making today's event a memorable experience. Thank you and be well. Again, Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month. Goodbye, everyone!

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