A couple of weeks ago, I met this fantastic chef. His name is Ricardo Zarate.
He’s Peruvian, and is taking the culinary world by storm with his transformational, modern Peruvian fare. Jessica and I frequented his booth at the Natural Products Expo in Los Angeles embarrassingly often. But we just couldn’t get enough of his exotic cuisine and mouth-watering cocktails.
It turns out, Chef Zarate has appeared on Knife Fight, has won numerous awards, and has been nominated for three James Beard Awards, which is kind of like an Oscar for chefs, but more prestigious. Who knew? He was such a down-to-earth guy and took time to talk to us about his food.
The common denominator in the deliciousness factor for my favorite bites was crispy quinoa. I loved the fish, I adored the ravioli. The cooked quinoa was wonderful on it’s own. But there was something so satisfying about eating a slice of velvety sea bass sashimi with the satisfying, earthy crunch of quinoa. Chef Zarate was kind enough to give us a little tutorial in the middle of a trade show. Here’s a quick tutorial on How To Make Crispy Quinoa:
In case you missed it, here’s the oven method.
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Rinse quinoa under running water until water runs clear.
- Put quinoa, water, coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for about 15 min or until the water evaporates.
- On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spread a thin layer of cooked quinoa as evenly as possible.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, stirring and redistributing the quinoa EVERY 5 MINUTES. (This is super important!)
- When quinoa turns just a shade darker and is slightly crunchy, remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Store in an airtight container and sprinkle on everything for the next two weeks.
It never occurred to me to use quinoa as a garnish or to add crunchy texture. Now, I eat it on EVERYTHING. My toddler loves dipping his finger in the crispy quinoa and licking it off. Kind of like a Lick-a-Made, but healthy.
If you are interested in more of his cuisine, check out his cookbook, set for release on in October.
Thank you, Chef Zarate, for taking the time to teach us how to make perfect, crispy quinoa. Your cocktails weren’t too shabby, either.