As Sacramento summer heats up, local chefs’ thoughts naturally turn to seafood. After all, who wants to eat braised short ribs when temperatures soar into the triple digits?
LOBSTER ROLL, RUDY’S HIDEAWAY
This classic summer sandwich originated in Maine and is popular up and down the East Coast from July 4 through Labor Day. Sacramentans can get their fix at Rudy’s Hideaway, which serves a traditional East Coast lobster roll: a toasted split-top bun filled with a quarter-pound of Maine lobster moistened with a bit of melted butter. For color and texture, there’s chopped celery, green leaf lettuce and a drizzle of lemon aioli. It comes with waffle fries on the side.
Backstory: In business since 1972, Rudy’s Hideaway put the lobster roll on the menu only three years ago because people were asking for it, says chef Kristina Golden. She experimented with recipes, mixing the lobster with mayo (too overpowering) and sauteing it in butter. But, says Golden, “the traditional East Coast way knocked it out of the park.” Rudy’s Hideaway also operates a food truck that serves lobster rolls on the road.
Where: 12303 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova; (916) 351-0606; rudyshideaway.com
POKÉ, FISH FACE POKÉ BAR
Poké bars are all the rage in Hawaii and Los Angeles. Now, Sacramento has its own poké bar, opened earlier this summer by Kru’s Billy Ngo. You order at the counter, choosing a protein (salmon, sturgeon, octopus, shrimp or tuna) and sauce (sesame soy, spicy kimchee, wasabi, creamy cilantro pesto or yuzu ponzu). There are optional add-ons (avocado, crunchy garlic, rice crackers) and sides (organic sushi rice, brown rice, nori chips, wakame salad).
Cost: $8 small/$12 medium/$16 large
Backstory: Poké—chunks of raw fish marinated in sesame and soy—is basically Hawaii’s version ofseviche. Ngo was inspired by the ca-sual fish shacks popular with surfers in Hawaii and Venice Beach. “Poké is perfect for Sacra-mento’s weather,” he says. “It’s always hot here.”
Where: 1104 R St.; (916) 706-0605; fishfacepokebar.com
SCALLOP AND OCTOPUS GREEN PAPAYA SALAD, 58 DEGREES & HOLDING CO.
F. J. Villalobos, the executive chef at this midtown wine bar, created this composed salad for his summer menu. Inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine, it features tiny bay scallops and octopus (sliced razor thin), along with shaved red onion and radish, julienned papaya and a vinaigrette of lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce, a touch of sugar and chili powder. (Villalobos makes his own chili powder using tiny bird chilies.)
Backstory: Back in June, when temperatures were already hitting the century mark, Villalobos began looking to add lighter fare to the menu. “I was eating a ton of cold dishes, trying to figure out how to beat this heat,” he says, noting that the salad is filling but light. “You could have it and get on with your day without feeling bogged down.”
Where: 1217 18th St.; (916) 442-5858; 58degrees.com
TRIANGULOS CRUJIENTES DE CEVICHE DE CAMARON (CRISPY TRIANGLES WITH SHRIMP SEVICHE), CIELITO LINDO
There are many ways to make seviche. At this East Sac restaurant, which recently reopened after a 13-month closure due to fire, chef/owner Ramiro Alarcón uses a traditional Acapulco recipe. (That’s where his father comes from.) He “cooks” chopped shrimp in lime juice and serrano peppers, then adds pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, a bit of Worcestershire sauce and a surprise ingredient: Clamato juice.
Cost: $8 lunch/$9 dinner
Backstory: Seviche is fresh and cold—a perfect summer nosh. Alarcón serves it on small, crisp, triangular tostadas topped with a little smear of guacamole. The ratio of fish to chip is key. “Crunch is very important,” he says, noting that too much fish to chip results in too little crunch. “When you feel the crunch, your brain wants some more.”
Where: 3672 J St.; (916) 736-2506; cielitolindo.us
CHILLED HAMACHI UDON, AJI JAPANESE BISTRO
According to chef/co-owner Russell Okubo, there’s nothing more refreshing than this summertime dish. Chilled udon noodles doused in cold dashi broth are topped with rosy slices of hamachi sashimi and a dollop of ika sansai. (That’s diced octopus and squid salad to you.) Garnishes include nori flakes, crunchy garlic and sesame seeds. Oh yeah, there’s a bit of heat, too, from the wasabi.
Backstory: In Japan, chilled udon is served only in summer. Aji follows suit. “It’s cool and refreshing but hearty, too,” says Okubo. “If hamachi’s not your thing, you can have it with tuna or salmon instead.”
Where: 4361 Town Center Blvd., El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-9181; aji-bistro.com