Arctic Char and Ahi tacos from Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach

These are just  a couple of the fun, approachable items on the Tommy Bahama menu. Go and order or make your own.

Arctic Char with Pea Risotto    
(Serves 4)

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – Depending on your taste and mood you could make just the apple fennel slaw or the sweet pea risotto, both stand on their own. You can also substitute other fish, preferably sustainable, if  you cannot find Arctic char.  

4  Arctic char  filets, 6 ounces each                    
2 teaspoons house salt and pepper blend            
10 ounces apple fennel slaw (recipe follows)            
12 ounces risotto base(recipe follows)                    
1 ounce unsalted butter, cubed                
2 ounces pecorino romano, shredded             
6 ounces sweet pea sauce (recipe follows)                
8 ounces high-quality chicken stock (broth), low sodium
4 tablespoons sweet peas                    
4 cilantro sprigs                        

Place lightly oiled Arctic char on a very clean and pre-heated grill.  Cook to medium, making diamond marks on both sides on the fish.  Once finished cooking, remove from grill and season with ½ teaspoon of house salt and pepper on both sides, and brush with a little olive oil and let rest in a warm spot.  

Using low to moderate heat add chicken stock, sweet pea sauce and risotto base to a sauté pan.  Gentle cook the risotto until it looks creamy.  Add the cheese, and the risotto should tighten up a bit.  Then finish with the butter to add a nice shine.  Hold.    

Place cooked risotto on the plate first; then add cooked fish and top with the apple fennel slaw and garnish with the cilantro sprig.  Enjoy!  

Risotto base

arctic char

Arctic char


½ ounces olive oil            
4 ounces yellow onion, ¼ inch dice    
1 ½ tablespoons shallots, minced        
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced        
2 cups arborio rice            
8 cups chicken stock            
Add oil to medium heated heavy bottom saucepan.  Add onions, shallots, garlic and rice.  Sauté for 2 minutes.  This is very important!!!  Add chicken stock ½ cup at a time. and cook until all liquid is gone.  Stir rice while adding stock so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of pan.  Rice should almost be cooked when finished with the stock.  Spread out risotto on baking pan lined with wax paper and cool.  Reserve until later.  

Sweet pea sauce

2 ½ ounces yellow onion, minced        
1 ounces garlic, minced            
1 ounces olive oil            
2 ounces heavy cream            
1 ½ cups chicken stock            
1 teaspoon kosher salt            
½ teaspoon white pepper        
2 ounces Meyer lemon juice        
3 ½ cups sweet peas            

Sweat onions and garlic in olive oil in a saucepan until translucent.  Add cream, stock, salt pepper and lemon juice to mixture and bring to a soft boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Add peas and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add to blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside.  

Apple fennel slaw

2 ounces lemon juice            
1 quart water                
10 ¼ ounces green apples            
1 pound fennel bulbs, remove tops    
¼ ounce cilantro, washed, rough chop    
1 teaspoon house salt and pepper        
1/8 cup white truffle oil            
¼ cup honey                
¼ cup lemon juice, fresh        
¼ teaspoon cumin, ground            

Add lemon juice to the water and set aside.  Cut apples into 4 pieces and remove core.  Slice apples on mandolin to a large julienne (a little bigger than 1/16th thick).  Place in lemon water.  Slice the fennel bulbs against the grain on the mandolin the same thickness as the apples.  In a separate bowl add cilantro, house salt and pepper, white truffle oil, honey, lemon juice and cumin together and mix.   Strain apples and shaved fennel to dressing and mix all until incorporated.  Reserve.  

House salt and pepper blend  

3 tablespoons kosher salt        
1 tablespoon coarse grind black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper        


Culinary Director Don Donley
Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach Bar & Grill
Laguna Beach, CA


Tommy Bahama ahi tuna tacos     
(Serves  8)

Canola oil for frying
8  wonton wrappers, 3 ½”x 3 ½ “squares            
2 ounces Asian slaw (recipe follows)                    
2 teaspoons lime vinaigrette (recipe follows)                    
4 ounces ahi tuna, fresh, diced ¼-inch cubes       
2 tablespoons ahi tuna taco dressing                
4 teaspoons wasabi lime avocado                
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, black and white, toasted        
2 teaspoons red bell pepper, brunoise, very fine dice        
2 teaspoons scallions, very thinly sliced on the bias        

To prepare the wonton taco shells:  Preheat canola oil in a deep fryer (Turkey fryer) or a large stockpot to 335° F.
 Place the wonton wrappers over a stainless steel taco molder (found at local restaurant supply stores or online at Pronto Products) and submerge the taco molder with wonton shells into the oil for 50 seconds, or until light golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.      

Assembly: Toss the Asian slaw with the lime vinaigrette in a small bowl. Evenly distribute the slaw among the taco shells. Toss the diced tuna with the ahi tuna taco dressing in a small bowl until incorporated and spoon evenly on top of the slaw. Drizzle the wasabi lime avocado on top of each taco and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, red bell pepper and scallions.

Asian slaw

4 ounces green cabbage, shredded thinly, ¼ inch         
2 ounces red onions, sliced into half-moons, 1/8 inch    
2 ounces jicama, peeled, julienne 2 inches long        
1 ounce cilantro, fresh, washed, rough chopped        

Add all ingredients together and mix well.  

Lime vinaigrette

2 teaspoons house salt and pepper blend (recipe below)    
3 tablespoons kosher salt            
1 tablespoon coarse grind black pepper    
½ teaspoon white pepper            
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice                    
4 tablespoons olive oil blend (75% extra virgin 25% canola)    

Combine the house salt and pepper and lime juice in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Ahi tuna taco dressing

1 ½ ounces sesame oil                    
1 ½  ounces soy sauce                    
1 ¼  teaspoons ginger, fresh, peeled, minced            
1 ¼ teaspoons chipotle paste                    
½  tablespoon fresh lime juice                    
½  tablespoon shallots, minced                

Add all ingredients into mixing bowl and whisk together. When adding to the diced tuna, be sure to mix the dressing together first before adding, as it will separate.  

Wasabi lime avocado

2.5  ounces avocados, diced                
4  ounces sour cream                    
½  tablespoon lime, whole, squeezed                
½  teaspoon kosher salt                    
Pinch cayenne pepper                
Pinch white pepper                    
1 teaspoon wasabi paste                     
¼  teaspoon sugar, granulated                 

In blender or food processor, add avocados and sour cream and mix until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until incorporated.   

Culinary Director Don Donley   
Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach Bar & Grill
Laguna  Beach, CA

Don Donley

Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach culinary director Don Donley


Ahi tuna tacos

Ahi tuna tacos


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Linda Mensinga

Linda Mensinga was editor of Culinary Trends for 15 years, now a contributing writer. Researching restaurants and hotels, she interviews the best and brightest chefs, not necessarily the most famous, to learn their secrets and recipes. Their talent and dedication never cease to inspire her. 

Mrs. Mensinga is happily food obsessed and fortunate enough to be married to a chef. 

Contact Linda Mensinga


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