“People eat with their eyes,” says Bruce Rinehart, Rococo’s founder and chef, as he and his chefs carefully layer sunrise colors of yellow, red and green into a cylindrical mold. “Food should look like a piece of art, and you should respect the artists and the effort that is put into making a dish look beautiful.”
Plating food is a unique type of fashion, and at Rococo, that fashion comes alive with seasonal selections that add color and taste to every season. Though famous for founder its crab cakes, the seared Hawaiian poke salad is a rainbow of flavors that not only taste exquisite together but look like a summer bouquet as well.
Even in September, Oklahoma days stay hot, and Bruce says the seared tuna paired with lively fresh pineapple, lightly roasted red peppers and the frisky twang of seaweed salad is a perfect choice for a lighter meal. But like all things, the real magic comes in the presentation of a dish that is swimming in flavor.
Seared Tuna Poke Salad
Lightly sear tuna in sesame oil and thinly slice. Cube fresh pineapple and dice roasted red pepper that’s been cooked lightly in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Separate pineapple, red pepper and seaweed salad into their own ramekins.
Using a circular ring mold, place a couple pieces of tuna as the base layer, pressing down gently to make consistent. Layer seaweed salad, pressing down gently, followed by diced pineapple and red pepper. Top with another layer of seared tuna, followed by red pepper. Top with a third layer of tuna.
Carefully and slowly lift the ring mold to create a tower of food. Garnish the top with a pinch of seaweed salad.
Prepare an Asian glaze made from pineapple juice, ginger, brown sugar and oyster sauce. Drizzle the Asian glaze over the tower of poke. Sprinkle dish with black sesame seeds and chopped green onion. Serve with red chopsticks as an accessory that ties in the ruby of the roasted red pepper.
“Not only is this a refreshing dish, but it is a beautiful one, too,” Bruce says. “You need that ‘wow’ factor. When people compliment how a dish looks on top of how good it tastes, that’s when the magic happens.”
In June 2004, Bruce opened Rococo Restaurant and Fine Wine at the corner of 28th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue with the idea of creating a “little island of fine dining” with East Coast-style fresh seafood, killer pasta and a huge variety of favorites from the New England area. Bruce opened a second Rococo location in Northpark Mall and an event catering division.
Rococo has the reputation for having the best crab cakes around, but the clam chowder—say “chowda” when ordering—is always a crowd pleaser along with exotic dishes such as escargot and Rococo cookies, which are savory toasted bites topped with a variety of toppings.