Chef Rodelio Aglibot
As a first generation Filipino American growing up in his native Hawaii, Rodelio (Rod) Aglibot got his first inkling that his true love in life would be cooking. He credits his parents as his early culinary mentors, his father, Reggie, a retired chef and his mother, Sally, a great cook in her own right. Rodelio says it was his upbringing and family traditions that influence his affinity and creativity in the kitchen. Little did he realize that he would one day own his own restaurant, Yi Cuisine, which opened in Los Angeles in June 2004 to critical acclaim. His big smile and vibrant aura are matched by the bold flavors he produces and the passion he exudes; to know Rod is to love him and his food.
Formerly executive chef of Koi in Los Angeles, Rodelio earned his stars for creating an innovative menu of Asian dishes; blending bright flavors with an array of textures and temperatures. Rod’s tenure at Koi established him as a respected and personable chef; focusing on traditional Japanese ingredients with an essence of French technique and Californian style. Within two years of running the kitchen at Koi, Rod was presented with an opportunity to develop his own concept which led to the creation of Yi Cuisine.
Before landing at Koi, Rodelio was the opening executive chef and consultant of ZaZen, a beachy Asian Bistro in Venice, California. He was also a founder in a specialty seafood company in San Francisco, Ahi Bros; distributing tuna to some of the finest dining destinations in the world. Rod established the company as one of the premier tuna suppliers in the Bay Area, catering to such first- class restaurants as Aqua San Francisco, Gary Danko, and French Laundry.
After attending UCLA, he moved to San Francisco to pursue his culinary aspirations. He graduated from the City College of San Francisco’s Hotel and Restaurant Program, one of America’s longest running culinary school programs. His executive chef instructor encouraged Rod to apply for the prestigious Chef’s Apprenticeship Program at the Five-Star and Five-Diamond Greenbrier Resort, located in West Virginia. Rodelio’s acceptance into the program at Greenbrier was the most important and influential experience of his career and where he was introduced to “real” cooking and classical techniques. “I was surrounded by some of the most talented and career-driven chefs I’d ever met, I still refer to my practice at Greenbrier as “culinary boot camp,” jokes Rodelio. “Doing 1500 covers a night and decadent 12-course meals, Greenbrier was an education of a lifetime.”
Rodelio returned to San Francisco to continue learning from the school of hot kitchens. He was soon involved in five restaurant openings over a span of three years, most notably the E & O Trading Company, a Pan-Asian restaurant under the direction of chefs Joyce Goldstein and Gary Woo. As the opening sous chef, he furthered his education in Asian cuisine and began to hone his own culinary identity. Rodelio was the chef at the French-Asian restaurant Peregrine and the romantic hideaway the Magic Flute. He received favorable reviews from the San Francisco Chronicl e and SF Weekly.
Rodelio’s adventurous nature carries into his attraction to all types of cuisine. His travels throughout the United States, to the Philippines, Europe, and Australia have influenced his diversity of ingredients and flavors. Rodelio employs culinary externs and recent graduates because he believes in giving back to the industry and preserving a traditional process in becoming a chef. Rodelio was also a Chef Instructor for the culinary program he attended and is often asked to speak at culinary schools in Southern California. Chef Rodelio continually donates his time to charitable food and wine events including the Bon Appétit Wines and Spirits Focus, the Culinary Winemasters for Cystic Fibrosis, and Taste of the Nation for Share Our Strength. Rod has received numerous accolades and peer recognition for his work; he was invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in October 2004 as chef and owner of Yi Cuisine.
Over the past three years,
Rodelio has been featured on
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Crab Cake- Crusted Ahi
(Recipe Courtesy of Rodelio Aglibot, Executive Chef Yi Cuisine)
This dish has already become a signature favorite at my restaurant Yi Cuisine in Los Angeles. It perfectly marries sweet crab with buttery tuna, two great tastes that taste great together. I find it’s best to assemble this dish the night before you plan to cook it. The crab cake mixture has time to set and adhere well to the tuna, so it doesn’t clump off in the pan when cooked.
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, preferably Dungeness, picked over for shells
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons corn starch and 2 tablespoons water to make a slurry
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (4 ounce) tuna steaks, about 1-inch thick
2 cups daikon sprouts or mixed greens, for serving
2 tablespoons sweet-hot mustard
To make the crab cake mixture, combine the crabmeat, ginger, cilantro, chives, bread crumbs, and 2 egg whites in a large bowl. In a little bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water together with a fork to make a slurry. When the cornstarch is dissolved, pour half of it into the crab mixture, reserving the rest for the tuna. Fold the ingredients together gently but thoroughly, taking care not to mash the flaky crabmeat; season with salt and pepper. Beat the remaining egg white until frothy and brush it on the top side of each tuna steak. Now brush the remaining cornstarch slurry over the egg white to create extra glue for the crab cake to grab onto. Divide the crab mixture in half and pat a layer on the two pieces of tuna so it sticks and covers the top. Wrap it in plastic and store in the fridge for at least 8 hours or up to overnight so the crab and tuna can bond together.
Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high flame, drizzle with the oil, and just when it begins to smoke, lay the tuna steaks in the hot pan, crab- side down. Let them cook for a full 5 minutes without moving the tuna around, until the crab cake has firmed up into a golden crust. Using a spatula, carefully flip the tuna over and sear the bottom side for 10 seconds just until the flesh of the tuna turns white. Remove from the heat and place the tuna on a cutting board. Cut the crab cake-crusted tuna into even slices, about 4 slices per steak.
To serve, pile the daikon sprouts on a plate and arrange the tuna slices on top in a row. Dollop each piece of tuna with a little bit of sweet-hot mustard.
Yield: 4 appetizer servings