The Dish: Douglas Rodriguez

The Dish: Douglas Rodriguez

Known as the godfather of Nuevo Latino cuisine, Douglas Rodriguez wasted no time starting his cooking career. Born to Cuban immigrants in Miami, at age 13, he had his own collection of pots, pans and cookbooks. By 14, he was working as a summer apprentice in the kitchens of a local hotel.

After earning a degree in culinary arts, he began opening restaurants of his own, becoming one of Miami’s most celebrated chefs. He’s been the force behind Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia, since opening in 2001, and is slated to open a new Miami restaurant in the spring. 

Here are some of Rodriquez’s signature dishes:

Vaca Frita skirt steak


Fresh Cilantro
6 skirts steak (about 8 ounces each trimmed)
3 tbsp. pickling spice
5 each cinnamon stick
5 each anise star
2 bunch cilantro
6 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp. powder oregano
2 tbsp. wortershire sauce
2 tbs. black pepper
1 ½ tbsp. salt
½ cup finely minced fresh parsley
½ cup finely minced flat leaf parsley
¼ cup finely minced fresh oregano
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin oil
2 tbsp. mustard powder
2 red bell peppers
2 red onions
10 limes squeezed juice


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree. In large roasting pan lay down skirt steak in large pot. Place all spices and ad one gallon of tap hot water. Mix well and pour over the steaks in roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil tightly. Place in oven and cook for 2 hours. 

2. Removed from oven, uncover and let cool in liquid. In one hour removed from liquid. In a bowl mix Julienne red onions, julienned red peppers and pour lime juice on then, add salt. Mix well. Once meat is cooked, needs to be shaved. Follow the strands on 1/2 inch pieces. Continue to shred until all meat is done.

3. Over high heat place a large skillet on flame, let heat for 5 minute until blazing out. Add ¼ vegetable oil and add half the meat. The objective is to make meat crispy. So let it sit and sizzle until a crust forms on bottom, should be about 3 minutes each side. After meat look well toasted add the half of onions and peppers mixture and mix well.

Cerviche tasting trio

Cerviche verde (bright green) with octopus and scallops

Cerviche verde (sauce)


2 kaffir lime leaves 
2 oz.  celery 
1oz.  green jalapenos 
2 cloves garlic 
1 oz. ginger peeled 
4 oz. lime juice 
Salt to taste
1 oz. Kalamansi 


1. Place all ingredients in a blender for about 1 minute and then stained. Set aside.


1 pound Cobia thinly sliced
½ red onion thinly sliced
1 stalk celery thinly diced
½ cucumber thinly diced
3 sprigs cilantro


  1. In a non-reactive bowl, mix all ingredients. Serve immediately. 

Thai mixto ceviche  

With coconut lobster, shrimp and calamari with coconut and cherry tomatoes

Thai coconut mixto ceviche


½ lb. shrimp poached lightly
½ lb. Lobster poached lightly
½ lb. calamari rings
2 oz. cherry tomatoes split
1 oz. cucumber sliced thinly
3 oz. young coconut water
2 oz. lime juice
1 oz. ginger grated finely
1 oz. Kalamansi syrup
½ chives sliced
½ Thai basil


  1. In a bowl mix all ingredients, refrigerate and serve ice cold. 

Tuna watermelon ceviche (bright reddish purple)



5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoon sambal oleck
2 tablespoon Lemon oil
1 ½ tablespoon yuzu juice
2 tablespoon salt



1 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1-pound center –cut boneless ahi tuna, cut into ¼ -inch dice
9 ounces cubed (¼ -inch) fresh ripe seedless watermelon
2 tablespoon candied kumquats in syrup

  1. In a large non-reactive bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Gently fold in the garnish ingredients, the tuna, watermelon, and kumquats, and serve immediately.

Tuna & advocado salad


1 lb assorted cherry tomatoes
2 advocado hass
1 watermelon radish thinly sliced
2 sprigs oregano cleaned
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup EVOO
Salt and black pepper to taste


1. In a non-reactive bowl whisk lemon juice with salt pepper and EVOO until emulsified.  Cut tomatoes in half and the avocado in wedges.  Arrange on plate and sprinkle with oregano and watermelon radish then pour dressing over salad.

Crunchy Cuban vegetable slaw 


1oz. carrot hay, julienne shaved
1oz. jicama hay, julienne shaved
1 oz. Calabaza hay, julienne shaved
1 oz. Chayote hay, julienne shaved
1 oz. coco Malanga hay, julienne shaved
1 oz. ice burg lettuce, julienne shaved
1 oz. arugula
1 oz. cucumber, julienne shaved
2 oz. sofrito dressing (see recipe)
1 oz. pickled red onions
6 leaves mint
Few Sprigs Micro Cilantro


1. Shaved all vegetables on a Japanese mandolin.  In a non-reactive bowl mix them together. To serve add the sofrito dressing on the bottom then top with vegetables.

Sofrito dressing


½ cup achoite oil 
1 cup red bell pepper 
½ cup diced red onion 
2 cups red wine vinegar 
4 oz. Brown sugar
2 oz. smoked paprika 
Salt to Taste


  1. In large pot over high heat place red pepper, onion and oil cover and cook 5 mins.  Stir reduce heat to simmer add brown sugar and cover and cook 20 mins.  

  2. Add the vinegar add reduce by half.  Let cool completely and puree in blender add smoked paprika and continue to blend.

Dessert: Chocolate cigar

Yields 18 cigars 

Cake ingredients

2/3 up all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup water
5 tbsp. melted butter

Filling ingredients

4 ½ cups heavy cream
12 ½ ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cool slightly

Coating ingredients

4 ½ oz. semi–sweet chocolate, melted
72 fresh mint leaves washed and patted dry
1 cup cocoa powder
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ cup tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup cocoa powder


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a jelly-roll pan and line it with parchment paper. Stir the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. 
  2. In another bowl, beat eggs with sugar with electric mixer on high speed. Add the vanilla and water all at once and continue until mixture is triples in volume.
  3. Working quickly so you don’t lose too much volume, turn off the mixer add the flour, add the flour mixture all at once and fold into form a batter.
  4. Place butter in a separate mixing bowl, add about 1 cup of the batter and blend well. Add this to the remaining batter and blend quickly. Pour the batter into the prepared jelly-roll pan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Removed pan and let cool.
  5. To prepared filling, chill stainless steel bowl and a whisk. Beat cream in the chilled bowl until whopped. Fold in the melted chocolate by hand. The mixture will be somewhat crumbly.
  6. Cut the long side of the coolest cake in half. Spread ¾ to 1 cup of the chocolate –cream mixture on one side of the cake, and top with the other half of the cake forming a sandwich. Neatly trim all edges of the cake.
  7. Make one cigar at a time, Lay out an 8-inch square of plastic wrap on a work surface. Cut the cake into 5/8-inch-wide strips and place in the center plastic wrap. Using about 2 to 2 ½ tbsp. of the filling, place small blobs along each strip of cake at both ends. Carefully roll up the plastic wrap around the cake and filling: twist the ends to close.
  8. Using the warmth of your hands and fingers, gently squeezed and mold the filling around the cake to form cigar shape cylinder. Lay the cigar on a chilled baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat for the remaining cake and filling until there are 18 cigars. 
  9. When ready to assemble, unwrapped a cigar and randomly place 2 mints leaves around it on one half of the cigar. With a pastry brush, spread some of the remaining melted coating chocolate over the mint leaves. Repeat with remaining cigars. Cover baking sheet tightly.
  10. To serve mix, 1 cup cocoa powder, ½ cup confectioners’ sugar and ½ tbsp. cinnamon on large plate.  Take it cigar from freezer and roll it in the powder mixture. Repeat with remaining cigars. Dust individual plates with mixture and enjoy it with ice cream.

Drink: Classic mojito 


¼ cup fresh sugarcane juice, or 1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ oz. light rum
4 or 5 mint leaves
Crushed Ice
7-Up to taste (or soda)
1 stick sugarcane for garnish
1 slice lime, for garnish


  1. Place the sugarcane juice, rum and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker and stir. (If using sugar, shake vigorously until the sugar dissolves. Fill tall rocks glass with crushed ice and pout cocktail over ice. 
  2. Add the 7-up and stir gently. Garnish with sugarcane sticks and serve.