With the opening of his newest Dubai property, Richard Sandoval’s restaurants now number 37, with locations in Hong Kong and Serbia as well as spanning the U.S. Orange County is the home of just one: modern, pan-Latin Raya, in the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. The scope of Sandoval’s business empire, not to mention frequent TV appearances—he’s been on “Top Chef Masters” and “Chef Wanted”—keeps him on the move, and he stops in to Raya a least once a quarter to review new menu items.
Last week, he had an additional reason to visit, the publication of his new cookbook “New Latin Flavors” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $30). A reception at Raya featured a menu of dishes from the book, and if chef de cuisine Steve Wan was at all nervous cooking for the boss, it wasn’t apparent. Things started off swimmingly with an amuse-sized bite of an ancho-pistachio tuna with mole verde (an entrée recipe in the book), progressing through an unusual, snappy ceviche with sweet potatoes, and empanadas with Thai flavors in the filling and exceptionally crisp exteriors. Miso black cod, a Raya favorite, was the main, its crackly skin covering a square of rich, tender fish with a light sweetness from miso and mirin, plus a hint of chipotle chile. Other Raya recipes in “New Latin Flavors” include applewood-smoked swordfish dip, achiote salmon, Spanish style risotto, yuca fries, and versatile pickled jalapeños and pickled red onions. Closing the book is a chapter on The Latin Bar, covering drinks with beer and spirits, as well as sangria.
The recipe for the black cod marinade is below. Sandoval suggests salmon as an alternative, though the Asian-Latin flavor could enhance any of a number of fish. (In the restaurant, the dish is finished with two sauces, teriyaki-like kabayaki and lemon-togarashi aioli—both recipes are in the book.)
½ cup white miso
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sake
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, with clinging sauce
4 6-ounce skinless black cod or other fish fillets
Purée miso, mirin, sake, and chipotles in blender. Marinate fish at least 4 hours or overnight before broiling or grilling.