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Appetizers

Deconstructed Ahi Roll

by Executive Chef Aaron Neeley

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Deconstructed Ahi Roll The Deconstructed Ahi Roll blends the flavors and textures of sushi with crab ceviche and white truffles. This striated tower of seasoned sushi rice, avocado, crab ceviche and ahi tartare is garnished with crisp Japanese cucumber and truffle vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

Ahi Tartare
  • 1 lb Ahi tuna, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Combine all ingredients; chill thoroughly.

Crab Ceviche
  • 2 cups crabmeat
  • 3 tablespoons chives
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Combine all ingredients; chill thoroughly.

Sushi Rice
  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar, seasoned with sugar to taste
Using a rice cooker, cook rice according to package directions until done. While the cooked rice is still warm, fold in vinegar mixture. Set aside.

Avocado Puree
  • 2 avocadoes, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients; chill thoroughly.

White Truffle Dressing
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons truffle pieces, minced
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, small dice
  • 1/4 cup truffle oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Combine all ingredients and mix well; set aside.

Garnish
  • 1 Japanese cucumber, thinly sliced
Method (for one serving):
1. Place a ring mold* in the center of appetizer plate
2. Arrange Japanese cucumber slices in a circle around mold
3. Fill ring mold with a bottom layer ((1/4 inch thick) of seasoned sushi rice; pack it down firmly
4. Fill ring mold with a second layer (1/4 inch thick) of the avocado puree, pressing layer down firmly
5. Fill ring mold with a third layer (1/4 inch thick) of the crab ceviche; press down firmly
6. Fill ring mold with a final layer (1/4 inch thick) of the Ahi tartare; press down firmly
7. Gently remove ring mold to reveal striated roll
8. Garnish roll with croutons and micro greens
9. Lightly dress cucumbers with truffle dressing
10. Serve immediately

Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Neeley of Monarch and Hotel ZaZa. Chef Neeley comes to Hotel ZaZa via Las Vegas, bringing the experience, energy and enthusiasm necessary to create and execute a sublime menu melding a premium selection of steaks with lighter Mediterranean fare. He is focused on ensuring the highest quality and consistency whether the meal is served at Monarch, through in-room dining in one of the hotel's 315 guestrooms and suites, or in the 17,000 square feet of dedicated meeting and event spaces, including the majestic lobby level Phantom Ballroom, the "Imagination" suites on the 11th floor, the lower level private rooms and the spectacular "Urban Oasis" rooftop pool terrace.

Chef Neeley comes full circle back to his Texas roots via the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas, where he served as Executive Sous Chef. In this capacity, he supervised culinary operations for the entire hotel, including the award-winning ENVY steakhouse. Under his direction, ENVY received the Las Vegas Epicurean Award for "best new off-strip restaurant," and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Prior to his experience at the Renaissance, Neeley worked as sous chef at City Grill in Austin, Texas, followed by the sous chef at Shoreline Grill and Chef Tournant at Caesar's Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

As Executive Chef at Monarch and Hotel ZaZa, Aaron will continue to develop Monarch's menu and signature dining experience. Experimenting with innovative techniques and flavors, Neeley aims to provide locals and guests with meals that are as creative as they are flavorful. Products flown in from around the world are the rule and not the exception at Monarch.

For more information, please visit www.monarchrestauranthouston.com or call (713) 527-1800.

*Editor's Note: You may purchase a set of ring molds at www.cooking.com.



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