Wednesday, February 29, 2012

With Chef Rafael Palomino in Newly Opened Bistro Latino

With Chef Rafael Palomino--in front of one of his many kitchens!
(Photo thanks to my daughter Sofia Markusfeld)

Local friends are lucky: Chef Palomino just opened his 7th restaurant in the lovely town of Tuckahoe New York. Set on Main Street, this homey bistro—aptly entitled Bistro Latino—primarily features Spanish tapas, as well as a wonderful assortment of wine, sangrías, and cocktails. It’s got a great “feel,” to it: part New York City, part someone’s cozy living room. It’s the perfect place to meet up with friends on a weekday night, or to enjoy with your sweetheart—any night of the week.  If you are a tapas fan (and who doesn’t like sampling small dishes either before dinner, or as part of a meal on their own?) you’ll really enjoy both the menu, and the ambiente  (ambience) of Bistro Latino!

What’s the story behind this successful chef/restaurateur? Basically his ability to marry his love of food with his business savvy. He was indoctrinated into the culinary world by such rock stars as Jonathan Waxman, Charlie Palmer, and Larry Forgione.  A year in France, five cookbooks, two kids, one wife, and 6-plus restaurants later, he’s still as passionate as ever about his craft—and his customers.

What are Chef Palomino's top five favorite ingredients to work with?
Tuna, salmon, shrimp, mango--and white balsamic vinegar.
His favorite herbs/spices? 
Cilantro, basil, coffee, mint, and chives. 
His advice? 
Prep as much as you can! Have your mise en place--all your ingredients ready--the day before. 

Now I have to add that I’ve known this chef for a loooong time. In fact, I wrote four of his five cookbooks—so I’ve logged some hours in the kitchen with this man.
And still, I’m delighted—dazzled—by his constant ability to create, and recreate. His inspiration comes from his heritage (born and raised until a young teen in Bogotá, Colombia—before moving to Queens, New York), his education/experience, and by people he meets/dishes he enjoys.  All who know him know that he cares about every dish that leaves his stove(s)! 

Below is  a recipe for his Croquetas de Cangrejo Azul—crab cakes—which are lovely, light, and perfect to accompany a selection of other tapas.
Bistro Latino
64 Main Street
Tuckahoe, NY 10707
Tel: 914 961 2233
Chef Rafael Palomino's Bistro Latino Crab Cakes
(Photo thanks to my daughter, Sofia Markusfeld) 

This recipe is from Rafael Palomino’s newly-inaugurated restaurant, Bistro Latino, in Tuckahoe. They’re light yet flavorful, and perfectly crispy on the outside while rich and crab-filled on the inside.  They serve them as pictured here with a whole-grain mustard aioli, but both my daughter and I said we liked them with a light squeeze of fresh lemon.  I enjoyed them with one of their white wines, but these croquetas are perfectly combined with sangria, too!  I haven’t made them at home yet, but if I did, I’d definitely prepare them ahead of time, and then fry ‘em up just before the arrival of my guests.

Makes about 16 crab cakes

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 pound lump crabmeat  (crab meat may be substituted)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 cup finely minced red pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 and 1/4  cups panko  
Canola oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium-size skillet and sauté the garlic, onion, and celery until transparent, about 3 minutes.

Put the lump crabmeat into a bowl.   Add half a cup of panko, mayonnaise, mustard, egg whites, lemon juice, and parsley and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine another half a cup of panko with the garlic, onion, and celery. Add to the other ingredients and mix well to blend.

Take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture, and form into  1/2-inch wide balls.   transfer patty to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Repeat to make all the dough into balls.  (At this point you can fry, or refrigerate patties overnight.). Roll in remaining panko to coat just before frying.

Fill the bottom of a heavy pan with about half-inch deep with oil. Heat over medium-high heat until oil registers 325° on a deep-fry thermometer. Using a metal spatula,  or slotted metal spoon,  and gently transfer half of the patties to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until they’re golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer croquetas to a paper towel–lined plate and repeat with remaining balls. Serve immediately!



  1. Arlen, I can't wait to try Chef Palomino's crab cakes--gluten-free, of course! And we must go to Bistro Latino when next we are in town! Thank you for this recipe.


  2. Donna,
    Let me know about your gluten-free version...and definitely we must go to Bistro Latino when you're back on this coast!