Entertaining does not always go hand in hand with healthy meals. When I hosted our Summer 18 presentation at the TriBeCa Penthouse in New York, I wanted the food to be just as beautiful and natural as the space. I called on my friend, chef Woldy Reyes of fashion-favorite catering company Woldy Kusina, to prepare a delicious and healthy menu. Woldy is known for his use of seasonal ingredients and colorful presentations. He did an amazing job of creating a locally-sourced menu that was visual entertainment unto itself. Here Woldy shares his tips for preparing delicious food and a recipe for pan-seared halibut that was served at our dinner below.
What is your food philosophy?
I make and cook food that I would want to eat. A focus on vegetables that’s seasonal, healthy, beautiful and colorful. My motto is #EATCOLOR. The more colorful you eat the healthier it is.
What are your go-to dishes for entertaining?
My go-to dishes for entertaining are fresh vegetable crudite w/ homemade dips and kale guacamole w/ plantain chips. Our fresh vegetable crudite has always been a crowd favorite because we source interesting and colorful fresh veggies such as, watermelon and purple ninja radishes, purple cauliflowers and rainbow baby carrots. We display the vegetables naturally with their stems and leaves to give dramatic and visual interest and the variations of dips are the perfect accompaniments to the vegetables. The kale guacamole is my go to crowd pleaser. Adding fresh chopped kale, blistered poblano peppers and topping it off with the zing of salty cotija cheese is the ultimate party nibbles.
Your food always turns out so beautiful, what is your creative process for designing a menu?
My creativity is about enhancing ingredients that’s fresh, seasonal and local. I love to work with vegetables and fruits, mostly in their natural forms and elevating the flavors with simple seasoning.
What are your tips for entertaining with healthy ingredients?
The simple tip I can give is to source ingredients that local and seasonal. When you follow the seasons you get the flavors at their peak.
Tips for a beautiful presentation?
Again, the importance of sourcing local seasonable foods is the primary goal for making a beautiful presentation. Food should also be special. You eat with your eyes first. An artful presentation creates a conversation, you see the food and then you engage with it. My goal is to create an intimate experience.
PAN-SEARED HALIBUT WITH ASIAN SALSA VERDE
four 6-ounce skin on halibut fillets
1 tbsp light vegetable oil
For the salsa verde:
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
1 medium charred poblano pepper, charred skin + seeds removed
1 seeded and chopped jalapeño
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime zest
5 limes or ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ cup asian sweet chili sauce
¼ cup fish sauce
STEP 1: ASIAN SALSA VERDE
Place poblano pepper directly on the stove burner over medium-high flame. Blister the skin on each side until is blackened. Transfer the pepper onto a small bowl and let it cool completely. Remove and discard the blackened skin and seeds. Chopped the pepper and combine all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.
STEP 2: PAN SEAR HALIBUT
Using a large flat skillet, heat up until smoking, light vegetable oil. Season fish with salt and pepper on both sides Place the fillets skin side down and grill for 5-6 minutes to get the skin crispy. Flip the fillets and cook for another 2-3 minutes until fish is opaque.