In the vibrant city of Las Vegas, where culinary delights from around the world converge, one Belizean cook is working hard to make a name for himself. This weekend, Mario Graniel Jr., of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, paid homage to his Caribbean roots with a delectable creation.
Working as a line cook at the renowned NOBU Restaurant in The Virgin Hotel, Mario put together a special dish called “La Isla Bonita” that caught the attention of the restaurant’s management. Combining flavors and techniques from Belize with a touch of international flair, his creation was featured as a special on Sunday, May 14, 2023, something that does not come easy at the well-know restaurant.
A Unique Fusion of Flavors: “La Isla Bonita” is a dish that beautifully blends the natural richness of Tasmanian trout with the vibrant and fiery flavors of Belizean cuisine. The dish starts with a perfectly cooked Tasmanian trout, known for its delicate flesh and buttery texture. To add a tantalizing crunch, the chef incorporates fish skin (chicharon), a crispy delight that pays homage to Belizean culinary traditions.
The true magic of “La Isla Bonita” lies in its signature habanero butter garlic sauce. This zesty and aromatic blend infuses the trout with a distinctively Belizean kick. The habanero pepper, a staple of Belizean cuisine, adds a fiery heat that is balanced with the richness of butter and the depth of garlic. The result is a harmonious marriage of flavors that both excites and satisfies the taste buds.
To elevate the dish further, a delightful radish salad is delicately placed atop the trout. The crisp and refreshing notes of the radish complement the richness of the fish, creating a harmonious contrast. Finally, the dish is adorned with ikura, or salmon eggs, which provide bursts of umami and an elegant visual appeal.
For our Belizean chef, the journey to see “La Isla Bonita” featured as a special dish for one evening was one filled with dedication, passion, and the desire to share a taste of his homeland with the world.
Mario Graniel Jr., works as a line cook at NOBU Restaurant in The Virgin Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada