Contributed by Katy Morris
Need some help spicing up your Chanukah dinner celebrations? No problema!
Renowned Chef Julian Medina invites you to venture south of the border for the Festival of Lights this year. Actually, just south of Houston.
Once again, he has combined his Mexican heritage, present-day Jewish practice, and culinary erudition to create an enticing four-course Mexican Chanukah dinner at each of Toloaches and Yerba Buena for a non-traditional yet authentic holiday feast.
“I found it an exciting challenge to attempt to blend the Mexican cuisine and flavors I grew up eating with the traditional holiday dishes,” commented Mexico-born Chef Medina, who moved to NYC in 1996 and converting to Judaism after marrying an observant Jewish woman from the UES.
And after competing on Iron Chef America in 2012, he is no stranger to challenges. Although he didn’t walk away from that TV show a champ, he has certainly knocked this culinary fusion experiment out of the park.
For years now, he has served up his triumphant Mexican-infused Chanukah classics, like potato-jalapeno latkes with horseradish crema and Mexican sufganiyot - treats potentially holiday-fatigued cooks look forward to year after year.
This year, head over to your choice of Toloache 50, 82, Thompson or Yerba Buena (they will also be serving a limited edition of the menu at Coppelia) on any evening between December 16th and December 24th to enjoy them yourself. Reservations are a must.
And be sure to check out these Mexican and Pan-Latin bistros the rest of the year too as they regularly offer vegetarian options made with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients (Toloache 82 even has its own full vegetarian dinner menu).
Okay, enough of the small talk – let’s get to the menu. For starters, you will enjoy a guacamole con pescado ahumado (recipe below), made with smoked white fish.
One of the most popular of the small plates on the Chanukah is their trio of latkes, inspired by his mother-in-law and comprised of a potato-jalapeno latke with a horseradish crema, a zucchini latke with a tomatillo apple salsa, and a Mexican cheese latke with chipotle and agave nectar.
Another appetizing small plate option is the ensalada del chef (salad comprised of a roasted sweet potato Carpaccio, shaved brussel sprouts, manchego cheese, marcona almonds, sherry vinaigrette and pomegranate). For the main entrée, he poaches halibut in olive oil and pairs it with parsnip puree, romanesco salad and a chile ancho salsa.
If you still have room left, definitely try his now famous Mexican sufganiyot– donuts filled with dulce de leche.
Can’t make it out to dine this Chanukah? Lucky for you, we snagged the great (and easy) guacamole con pescado ahumado recipe from Chef Medina so you can enjoy at home. This appetizer is sure to help keep friends and family at bay as your homemade golden latkes are crisping to perfection!
NOTE: Toloache and its sister restaurants have plenty of vegetarian items on their menus for anyone kosher like me. These restaurants are not kosher.
All photos are courtesy of Toloache.
Chunky Avocado with Whitefish Salad
This Guacamole con Pescado Ahumado or Guacamole with Smoked Whitefish is a perfect starter for any meal. Guacamole lovers beware! This may be addictive.
Thank you Chef Julian Medina, Toloache, NYC, for this recipe.
This starter is non-dairy (pareve)
- 2 Mexican Haas avocados
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 2 Tb. cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 cup whitefish salad
- kosher salt
for the whitefish salad
- 1 cup smoked whitefish
- 1 Tb. mayonnaise
- 1 Tb. red onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. chives, chopped
- 1 tsp. cilantro, chopped
For the whitefish salad
- Combine all ingredients and mix well. Set aside
For the Guacamole con Pescado Ahumado
- Scoop the pulp out of the ripe avocados into a bowl and set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the diced onion and jalapeno with the lime juice and a pinch of salt.
- Allow to marinate for 3 minutes.
- Add to the marinated ingredients: avocados, cilantro and whitefish salad.
- Mash ingredients together and check the seasoning.
- Serve with warm tortilla chips.
This salad is super simple to make. If you have a reliable source for fresh, tasty whitefish salad, you may use that instead of making your own.