Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Alma Rodriguez and Lamees Dahbour: “We Are La Cocina” | Talks at Google

Alma Rodriguez and Lamees Dahbour: “We Are La Cocina” | Talks at Google


[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER: Please join me in
welcoming this amazing group to Google today. [APPLAUSE] I know a good host
when I see one, so I’m going to hand
the mic to Caleb and know that you are
in exceptional hands. CALEB: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Hi, guys. So my name’s Caleb. I’ve been lucky enough to work
at La Cocina since 2005, which is the year that the
organization opened its doors. Just as brief background,
we began the organization, because there was a theory
that in every micro community, places where people gather,
there are really talented entrepreneurs, who face
incredible barriers to market, barriers to entry
in the marketplace. More often than not, those
entrepreneurs are women, and they’re clicking
from their home, selling food on the streets, or
finding other ways to innovate in a constrained environment. The theory of La Cocina
was that if those really talented entrepreneurs
had access to affordable
commercial kitchen space and hands-on
technical assistants, they’d be able to transition
from the informal economy, where they’re making a little
bit of money on the side, and into the formal economy,
where they’re able to generate assets for their families. We opened our doors in 2005
in San Francisco’s Mission District with an
equity-driven purpose to serve exclusively low income
or very low entrepreneurs, primarily women, and especially
immigrant women and women of color, identifying
that that’s where the highest
barriers to entry exist in the food industry. It’s simply the reality that
even though more than 50% of culinary school
graduates are women, they still represent
less than 25% of business ownership
in the food industry. And then for every
position in kitchens, on average, women are
making $0.79 on the dollar before you even begin to
account for race and class. So there are real barriers to
entry for business ownership. If those barriers to entry
are lowered or didn’t exist, our theory is that
the outcomes that you see, the food that
you would taste, the business environment
that you would encounter would be entirely different. And hopefully, the books
that you hold in your hands and what you learn
through meeting these entrepreneurs
of La Cocina is that that’s what your
economy could look like. It could be more vibrant. It could be more inclusive. It could be more delicious,
and it could be more equitable. So that’s what the work
of La Cocina is about, and we get to have two of our
incredible chefs here today. And I’m so excited for you
guys to cook with them. Most of the people
who come to La Cocina begin as incredibly
talented chefs. We don’t teach
anybody how to cook. They teach us about
their food, so you’re in immensely capable hands. One of the first
things that we do is formalize their recipes
for scale and the industry. And so in the act of
writing this cookbook, we had to deformalize
those right back for your home kitchens, so you
are in the hands of not just some of the best chefs,
but some of the best chefs for cooking at home. So I’m really excited to
introduce you to Lamees, and Lamees is going to
tell you about her business and her food. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Hi, everyone. I’m really happy and
excited to meet all of you today and share with you one
of my traditional recipes. Originally, I am from
Palestine, but born in Kuwait. I’m living in [NON-ENGLISH] for
26 years until the war happened between Iraq and Kuwait. That gives me a lot of
time to spend with my mom and know more about her recipes. So I’m sharing today
a dish from Kuwait. It’s not from
Palestine, but we have a lot of dishes from Palestine. You know, we’re adding
a lot of spices, because there is a lot of
Indian and Pakistani immigrant in Kuwait, who
brought their spices, and they gave us a chance
to add it to our dishes. So I’m really happy to share. We’re going to start the demo,
so it’s called in Arabic, [NON-ENGLISH],, which is
like big fish in the oven. And in Kuwait, we like
living close to the gulf. It’s giving us a lot of
variety to do a lot of seafood in many different ways. And they are all yummy. So we’re going to, today,
take the trout fish. And you can use whatever you
want, whatever is available. If you don’t have–
a filet will work. With bone will work, too. CALEB: You don’t have to be
intimidated by the whole fish. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. So it depends on the
family size, basically. But Arabic people,
they have big families, so we do big size of dishes. The ingredients for
this dish is going to be jalapeno,
tomatoes, bell pepper, lemon, onions, parsley,
garlic, olive oil. We use a lot of olive
oil in our dishes. This is like what is famous
in Palestine is the olive oil. And there is a lot
of spices, so we have paprika, all spices,
turmeric, oregano, black pepper, cumin, coriander,
salt, of course. What else is– the lemon
juice that I mentioned before, so it’s already squeezed here. So the first thing– we’re going
to start slicing and chopping the ingredients, and put
the whole thing in a bowl. And then we will
start seasoning it. OK, now if you want to start. CALEB: Lamees, who’s your
wonderful helper here? LAMEES DAHBOUR: I
have two amazing– actually, I am a single
mom with the three kids, and this is the
thing, the beginning of opening this food business. I get used to work with
the Central Bank of Kuwait for almost like eight years,
and then because of the war, I moved to work for
the United Nations. And I spent with them 16 years,
and I was enjoying this job. After that, I immigrated
to United States with my ex-husband. I started working for the
embassy of Yemen in Washington. Then I moved to the
consulate section. The story behind Mama
Lamees is I end up as a domestic violence
victim and a single mom with three wonderful kids. And they were– this
thing happens in 2006. When they– my kids–
they were like too little. In our culture, it’s
kind of like really difficult to be a divorced
woman and live by yourself. So I faced kind of like a lot
of obstacles being living here in the United
States, but I think I got lucky to raise three
wonderful kids, you know. She’s in UC Davis. She is going to study
chemistry forensics. [INAUDIBLE],, he is in a
private college in Washington. He’s studying pre-med,
and I have another kid. He’s addicted to sports. He’s away, this one. But the thing that
sort of started when they started asking
me for gift cards, when they start
graduating, and that was like the hard, tough part
that I faced financially. So the story began
when I said, Mama, I’ll make a feast for the middle
school and for the high school, and we’ll invite
the whole staff. So I did it, and I did like the
traditional Palestinian food that I could share. And I’d drop it off. I set it up. I came, and everyone
was like really mad. And I said, oh, my
god, what’s going on? And they said, this is crazy. You have to start
your food business. And I never thought
like I’m going to be a chef or
a business owner, but I think I did
the right thing. And now I’m owning a
business, and in July, we’re going to open our kiosk
in Emeryville Marketplace. So we’re doing, and
we’re [INAUDIBLE],, and we’re taking off good with
the catering business, too. [APPLAUSE] CALEB: All of that before
you even cut an onion. LAMEES DAHBOUR: I know. So let’s start really quick. So my daughter, she’s
going to help me with some– cutting board. And we’re going to just
like, you know, slicing. CALEB: That’s how
you guys cut at home. Yeah, just quick with a cleaver. LAMEES DAHBOUR: And just
don’t injure yourself. So we’re going to
cut the whole thing, and I’m doing it like in a
really traditional way, where 30, 40 years, there is no
processor to blend everything. And women in kitchen,
they have a lot of time. Now we are moms. We are business owners. We have a shortage of
time, so you can– guys, if you have a
limit of time, just dump everything on a
processor, and yeah, grind it. But I’m going to show you
and share with you how I get to use to
cook it back home in Kuwait and in Palestine. So this is raw, really sliced. CALEB: Very little food waste. Google priority. I don’t know if you
saw the remaining bit of the red pepper here– not like many commercial
kitchens I’ve worked in. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. I always think that
the farmer works so hard to give us this gift. So it’s not like being cheap,
but being grateful and thankful to the lord who gave
us, especially– during the Iraq and
Kuwait war, where the sources was very limited. And we have just one
bucket a whole day of water and a barely few snacks
when Saddam Hussein he burned all the wells in Kuwait. That was the most
hard part when I was experiencing the war in Kuwait. Yeah, so at the
end, the whole thing is going to look like this. Sliced. Can I get a tomato? And this is– I think a mixing bowl, please. So we’re going to put
the whole thing here. I think– CALEB: So you’re
putting the red peppers. All of your ingredients go
into the same bowl together? LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. CALEB: All of the raw
vegetables cut thin. Or into your blender. LAMEES DAHBOUR:
Yeah, depending– CALEB: Depending on your time. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Exactly. CALEB: The pressures of life. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah, exactly. And the parsley. CALEB: Did you include the stems
when you chopped the parsley? LAMEES DAHBOUR: Sometimes the
stems are kind of like sweet, so I put some. CALEB: Yeah, taste them first. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah,
so I guess, if– CALEB: Waste not, want not. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah, exactly. I prefer sometimes with
the stems, especially when we make tabbouleh. Hopefully, some of you guys
know, it’s a Palestinian salad. And sometimes the stem is really
sweet, and why to throw it? We can chop it. Just be patient. Yeah. CALEB: Even easier
in your blender. LAMEES DAHBOUR: But there
is a secret in tabbouleh. Don’t ever grind
parsley when it’s wet. Let it– like soak it, clean
it, wash it thoroughly, put it in a sheet tray for overnight. And then the next day,
you can use the processor. Otherwise, you
can’t chop it wet. If you use the processor
while it’s wet, it’s going to become soggy. It’s not going to look good. CALEB: Bonus recipe. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. So this is the ingredients,
and then we add– [NON-ENGLISH]. CALEB: Lemon juice? LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah, so we’re
going to add the lemon juice. CALEB: Fresh lemon juice. LAMEES DAHBOUR: We
try as much as we can not to use any
preservatives in our food, so we serve our food
extremely fresh. So this is the olive oil. CALEB: Palestinian olive
oil, when you can find it. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Oh, my god. I wish I– CALEB: If you talk to Lamees
offline, we have a source. LAMEES DAHBOUR: So we have– we did the salt,
and now the cumin. And all this– in
my part, I never liked to put like
a grinded cumin, unless I grind it by myself. So always I have
the whole seeds– coriander, cumin,
cinnamon, cardamom, you know, and I love
to add it fresh. It’s way different than
using it already grinded. CALEB: And also, when someone
gets busier in their business, they might be able to grind
it a little bit ahead of time, so they don’t have
to do it every day. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah, exactly. That’s what we do. Like when we get a big amount
of catering, as I mentioned it to one of our
friends, that we did almost 1,000 servings a week ago
for three different companies. So we have to prep ahead,
but at the same time, we could go at the
same time freshly. So this is coriander. CALEB: And you’ll
see Lamees is largely cooking with her eyes,
which is something that often happens at La Cocina. But in your book, you have
all of the measurements that we’ve accurately captured. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Exactly. You know, when I
came to La Cocina, they said, oh, you
have to measure. And I said, what? What? This is my mom’s way, honestly. Like it’s– but just my
eyes, and just coincidence, I think by spirit,
by love, by heart, it always gives the same
consistency and the taste. And I think because if you love
to cook, you cook with love. For me, kitchen is kind
of like my therapy, where I live and enjoy the time. And I wish the time never ended. Some people they
say, oh, we don’t like to fight even one egg. For me, it’s totally different. As long as there is people
to do the dishes, it’s OK. And oregano. Yeah. I hate doing dishes. My enemy. This is all spices. Everything is mentioned
in the cookbook, and thank you guys for
supporting La Cocina. Please, you have to
buy one of those books. It’s called “I Am
La Cocina,” and it has a lot of entrepreneurs’
recipes and dishes there. And we want you also to
spread the word, please. So. CALEB: It’s an
unpaid advertisement. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. So OK, so at the end, I
just want to show you guys, if you grind it, it’s
going to look this way. If you’re going to keep it– I feel when I chopped it,
it looks more gorgeous. Like for me, food is
kind of like an art. I love to put my touches to it. But if you don’t have
time, you can just like marinate it with this. Of course, we usually get
the fish in Kuwait fresh, like the time I’m
done with my work at the Central
Bank of Kuwait, it was like exactly located next
to the beach, where fish– guys bring them. You know, fish is fresh. And I just grab them. This is the thing that
was driving my mom crazy. Like, can you stop buying fish? We’re getting sick and tired. And that was my dream. You know, even the
fish were like moving, while they are selling here. And this is– yeah, I’ll do it. Yeah. So just to make sure like when
you buy big fish, that it has the main thing, which is
like the soul, and make sure it’s [INAUDIBLE]. So we clean it, and
we wash it thoroughly. I might kind of like
to begin cleaning. I love to salt this in
the tub of salt, lemon, and a little bit
of vinegar, just to make sure all the gamey parts
go away for like 30 minutes. And then I wash it to make
sure there is no smell. It’s just like the flavor
tastes really good. So sometimes if you
get the filet one, you can put this
topping at the top. If it is too thick, you
can open it in the middle, and you just stuffed it inside. Just to make sure that the
salt goes equally to the fish, I spread some salt and
pepper all over the fish. Can I have some salt now? [NON-ENGLISH]. Sorry about the Arabic. Words comes in like, you know,
like [NON-ENGLISH] me a little bit more. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So just to make sure, just
the salt and the pepper goes all around the fish. And I, like, spread it
all around the fish, and then we just mix. It looks amazing. It looks, for me, like,
as I told you, as an art. So I’m putting– wearing this
fish like a beautiful dress. Yeah. So I put some– CALEB: Very avant garde. [LAUGHTER] And so that means you’re
going to stuff the fish and put it on top. And would you– LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. CALEB: Would you let
that sit for a while before you put it in? LAMEES DAHBOUR: Usually, I
did it a day, like overnight, just to make sure it
absorbs all the flavors– the garlic, the onion,
the olive oil, you know? The next day, I just take it out
of the fridge 30 to 45 minutes, just to leave the cold, to
cool it down, and then cover it with aluminum foil, and put it. In the beginning, you have
to heat up the oven for 450 for almost 10 minutes. We already got that ready. CALEB: Through the
magic of YouTube. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. And then we’re going to cook
it on 450 just for 15 minutes. And after that, we’re
going to lower it to 375, and let it cook for 20 minutes. And as I told you, it depends
on the size of the fish. Like this fish
definitely is going to need between 45 to
50 minutes to be cooked. CALEB: One of the hardest
things in the La Cocina cookbook was getting to the end of
recipes, when we asked people how long they were
to cook the dishes, and often, the answer
is, “until it’s done.” It’s obviously correct, but
harder, through translation, to achieve. LAMEES DAHBOUR: My mom,
she gets used to sew it. Anything she stuffed, she said,
oh, give me the needle, guys, and she started sewing
just to make sure. But that is– CALEB: Every generation
runs out of time. LAMEES DAHBOUR: I know. So I just want to
make it easy for you. You can, with toothpicks, just
to make sure it sticks inside. CALEB: Toothpicks are
like Lamees’s generation of a blender. LAMEES DAHBOUR: And you
can put this on top. And I love to use
my hands in cooking. I just want to make sure I
rub my food, take care of it. CALEB: Your pre-washed hands. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. Like one of my kids,
like I enjoy it. I really enjoy it. So sometimes, if
you feel like you want to add a
little bit of water, because you want to make
sure it’s not going to burn, I’ll add some water. [ARABIC] Just a little bit more, and I
want to make sure to– come on. My mom, she taught me,
oh, do this, Lamees. Make sure all the
spices– you know, clean. And then I just like put
it all around the fish. Sometimes we add [NON-ENGLISH]. Can you add some
olive oil on top? CALEB: Sometimes
you add olive oil? LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah,
I love olive oil. CALEB: Maybe all the time. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. That’s it. Yeah. So after that, we’re
going to go and cover it with aluminum foil,
cook it for, as I told you guys,
because it’s big, it’s going to be between
15 to 20 minutes. And after that, we’re
going to lower it and let it cook for another 15 minutes. And after that, we’re going
to take the aluminum foil and let it broil and get
it kind of grilled on top. And we serve this with
[NON-ENGLISH] rice. Sometimes when I
make this dish, I prefer, also, to make kind
of like a mixed vegetables next to it. I want a mixed green
salad for people who don’t want to eat a lot of stuff. So enjoy, you guys. CALEB: Thanks, Lamees. And we were going to make rice. Do we have time to make
the rice with Lamees? Or should we go? AUDIENCE: Yeah. CALEB: Yeah? Do you want to make the basmati
rice, too, really quick? LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. I just– it’s not going to take
too long, the basmati rice. CALEB: Cool. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. CALEB: And so you guys
heard that at the end, a little bit of the liquid
in the cooking dish, just so the cooking dish doesn’t
stick to the fish itself. It’ll add a little
bit of steam cooking, help cook the
middle a little bit. You don’t have to
use stainless steel. Get a nice clay pot. That might be more like
Lamees’s mom would have done. And then at the
end on the broiler, just be careful
with your boiler, so you don’t burn the top. But nice to get that top a
little bit crispy and just visually more interesting. LAMEES DAHBOUR: And
you can take pictures, but there is no time now. CALEB: We got professionals
taking the pictures. LAMEES DAHBOUR: [ARABIC]. So I just want to
mention, guys, there is a lot of different rice. As I mentioned before,
Lebanon, Jordan, Syrian people, we love basmati rice, and
the Gulf area love it. It’s way different
than Thai food, where they love– or
like Japanese food, where they serve the sticky rice. Sticky rice is not going
with any of our dish. Basmati rice, you can see
each piece by each piece. It’s not a sticky rice, so
this is 2 cups of basmati rice. And usually, I
wash it thoroughly, like three or four times. And I just want to make
sure that my fingers are playing with the rice. I never press it too hard. I don’t want to break the rice. And then I put some
water and like 1 table to 2 tablespoons
of salt. I believe that the salt keeps
each piece, and it never gets mushed or being sticky. So this has been
soaked for 45 minutes, and we’re going to drain it. Can you drain it, [INAUDIBLE]? CALEB: You know, everybody
knows that rice is a starch. Rice is one of the
things that tends to be very intimidating
for people to cook, but also very natural for
people who cook all the time. But Lamees is right. There’s a really
beautiful cookbook that’s not ours called
“Every Single Grain of Rice.” And there’s this–
you know, there’s a lot of thinking
around what it means to be able to cook a pot
of rice perfectly by sight, where the grains of rice
come out individually. And you know, it’s something
that happens with practice, but once you nail it, it becomes
an incredibly easy kitchen thing to do. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Yeah. So when they asked me to do
like a small tiny rice recipe, that was kind of hard, because
we’re producing hundreds, hundreds of pounds of rice. So basically, you bring
a pot, and is it on? CALEB: Yes, it’s induction. So it only gets hot in the pot. LAMEES DAHBOUR: Oh, OK. CALEB: Magic. LAMEES DAHBOUR: So
I just want to make sure there is no water on
the pot, and it’s fully dry. So you let it– like heat it
for like two, three minutes. Make sure that the pot is hot,
and then you add the olive oil. CALEB: Palestinian olive oil. LAMEES DAHBOUR: I love it. And then you add the rice. [ARABIC] I just want to make sure it’s– AUDIENCE: Good thing you’re not
using your hands for the rice. LAMEES DAHBOUR: I know. I don’t want to leave
any rice on the floor, but I just want to be
sometimes kind of professional. It’s like– that’s OK. And then I add
some oregano, salt, and I start stirring it for
at least like five minutes. When I start hearing
the sizzling, I boil some veggie
broth that I think the veggie broth is giving kind
of like a flavor to my rice. And this is because also,
mixed like veggie and vegan people and gluten
free people are happy. And when that gets boiled,
after five minutes, you just add a little
boil, until you start seeing that the
rice is floating on top. By the time you see
this, kind of like scene, you just like top it right
it away, lower it down, and let it steam for a while
for another 10 minutes. And then you use like– we prefer to use
kind of like a fork to separate the rice
from each other, and let it steam for
another 10 minutes. And after that, it’s
ready to go with the fish. Thank you, guys. CALEB: Sounds easy
enough, right? [APPLAUSE] LAMEES DAHBOUR: It was really a
pleasure sharing this with you, and thank you so much for
coming and watching us. Thanks for La Cocina for
introducing Mama Lamees to this event. Have a good one. CALEB: Thanks, Lamees. So we have to two of the– two of the entrepreneurs
from the book. In your book, you have
stories of 45 entrepreneurs. La Cocina, like I mentioned,
has been open since 2005. In that time, we’ve
graduated 55 businesses, meaning they’ve reached
other economic operational self-sufficiency– 97% of those women-owned
businesses, 85% are women of color. 100% begin with less than
$5,000 in original capital. Throughout the book,
you’ll read those stories. Those 55 graduates have
opened up 33 brick and mortar restaurants between
them, which means that if you put the
women of La Cocina up against any restaurant
group in the Bay Area, except maybe Google’s, that
we would be outperforming them in terms of restaurants
opened over the last 13 years, all of which are still open. So again, the point being
that certainly there are market economics
that you can point to, but there are
certain things that happen in specific markets that
make the outcomes inequitable. And there are ways that cities
can adjust their marketplaces for more equitable outcomes,
and almost an excellent example of what that can look like. So Alma’s going to tell you a
little bit about her business, and we’re going to cook
something really special with Alma. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Good day. I’m the Mixiote owner. “Mixiote” means that like– means likes steamed meat. I think my menu is Mexican
food, but my signature dish is la mixiote. And the mixiote cooks
every kind of proteins with a special marinade
that I’ll show you. And this is avocado leaf. This is that– this is my
butt kick for that mixiote. This is– now it’s dry, but
I have my friends in LA. They have a big tree. That this is a specific– many kinds of avocado,
like the Hass avocado, like there’s many. But this is that
one avocado that makes like a tartine cross. But this is a very special
flavor for the mixiote. CALEB: So Alma’s
business is Mixiote. It says it on her shirt,
in case you forget. And the mixiote
itself is the name of a dish that’s pretty
common in Mexico, but mostly for celebration foods. And it’s often,
in Mexico, a food that’s prepared by steam cooking
it, buried in the ground. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. CALEB: And the key
ingredient, avocado leaf, a little bit difficult to
source still in America. You can find a friend, like Alma
has, with the tree down in LA, to dry the leaves out for you. But if you can help to
source it in any other way, that’d be cool, so you
can make iterations of it. The other wonderful thing
is it’s really a technique, as much as it is a dish. And so there’s a way– what we’re doing here
is going to be the beef, but you could choose any
protein, vegetable, really anything that’s
going to stand up to a long period of cooking with
the marinade and the technique. And then you’ve got this
incredible range of dishes that you can cook. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, thank you. CALEB: You’re welcome. I’m learning from you. ALMA RODRIGUEZ:
Yeah, that mixiote, when I talk in [INAUDIBLE],,
I make for my business, I don’t do mixiote, because
we come from Mexico City. In Mexico City, they
emigrate many, many people to the other town. And a mixiote is one of the
recipes that my father-in-law– he’s cook it a long time ago,
but they cook in the ground with the– I will bring some example. CALEB: Anybody out
there know what that is? Many of you have consumed a
version of it in liquid form, perhaps to bad outcomes,
if you were new to it. ALMA RODRIGUEZ:
This is agave skin. This is for wrap
the mixiote, and I bring just one because
it’s surely [INAUDIBLE].. Yeah, this is my father-in-law– sorry, my grandfather he’s
use for wrap the mixiote. They put in the ground with
many spices, when I show you, and then for put more
[INAUDIBLE] on the top for around like
three or four hours. And then it’s start to really
cook and tender and juicy meat. And the most popular
is like a lamb. In Mexico, they use more lamb. It’s more common, but me, I
make the whole kind of protein because I want to use that
for that same flavor for use the mixiote. CALEB: Let’s do it. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. Let’s just start
with a marinade, and when I come here
to USA, I loved to– I loved to eat my
favorite things. Mostly, I look for the– what is that? There is called like
antojitos mexicanos. It’s a mix– CALEB: Mexican snacks. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Mexican snacks. And in Mexico City,
there’s like a lot of Mexicans snacks
on the street, and we’re looking for
sopes, quesadillas, like we need something
for remember my town. And then looking for a mixiote,
but nobody sells mixiotes. When my son is he’s told me,
oh, where I can find that? I said well, why don’t you
just make a filling by myself? But I tried to find an
avocado leaf because it’s really hard to find here. But we tried to use every
ingredient where they can find this in the Mexican stores. But my family they enjoy it
when I could Mexican food, but they know the result. OK? When I make mixiotes,
OK, anybody tell me. Because my mom, when
I was a little girl, I tell my mom and my sister
to make the mixiotes. But then when I have kids,
I try to– my son they same [INAUDIBLE]. OK but I’m going to
start the marinade. I want to thank you
for [INAUDIBLE].. I am nervous. I tell Caleb– CALEB: This is the first
debut of our new cooking show that we’re considering. While Alma’s preparing you
can start putting ingredients in there and say what they are. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK
the ingredients. We’ll use that dry chilies. Maybe you don’t– but
actually that’s chile guajillo that’s chile negro,
that’s chile pasilla. The chile pasilla is like– what a chile
relleno, do you know? Do you know what are
chiles rellenos is? This is when it’s dried. When it’s getting
dry it’s like that. CALEB: So there’s a World
of Mexican dried chilies, obviously. We invite you to explore them. You can find it at most
Latin marketplaces, dried for a long period of time. Just like the spices,
the dried chilies they benefit from a certain
measure of freshness. Some of them are smoked, some of
them have different treatments. And these are the typical
ones in Alma’s marinade, which you can see,
obviously, in the book. But again, there is
opportunity to iterate here with different chilies. Every chili is going to
have a different profile, and you guys will find a ratio
of those chilies that you like. You can see right
now that she’s– ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK, you
need to open, but careful. You need to use plastic
gloves so [INAUDIBLE].. I just open like this because
I don’t have a glove right now. CALEB: And definitely don’t
hold your baby afterwards. [LAUGHTER] Bad luck. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: No. Yeah. CALEB: A new parent. ALMA RODRIGUEZ:
Honestly, it’s same, like when my younger
son, I carried, you know? I’d make like that. But I forgot to
[INAUDIBLE] actually. I was like, oh, [INAUDIBLE]! Let me see you! When I– oh, my God. I forgot. He’s crying out loud. I said, oh! OK, I need to wash. Actually, I think I showered
together because when he [INAUDIBLE]. [LAUGHTER] CALEB: That’s much
smarter than me. It took me like 90
minutes to figure out what I had done wrong. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. OK. I know because I
live with my son. When I was in Mexico City
with him, with [INAUDIBLE] oh, what happened [INAUDIBLE]
this with [INAUDIBLE] any careful with those things. OK you can open
the dried chiles. The guajillo. And then you put it in the soak,
then put that in the water. And when it gets soft
you can put in the– CALEB: In boiling water. So you’re basically
reconstituting dried chilies to get them to the
texture that you want so that they’re blend-able. So it’s from a culture that’s
used to preserving foods. These are original
preserved foods, and the way that
you reconstitute them is through hot water. That water then takes
on a fairly acidic taste because a lot of
that leaches out. You can still use that water
for different purposes. You’ll obviously use it to
blend a little bit right there. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah,
you can use the water for keeping the flavors. That’s done. CALEB: It should be ready to go. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. OK. You can use the cloves for– CALEB: Cloves of garlic. ALMA RODRIGUEZ:
Cloves of garlic. And use the– this is cloves. Yeah. CALEB: Also ground cloves. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Ground cloves. This is oregano. CALEB: Mexican oregano. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Oh yeah. Mexican oregano. CALEB: Which has a
pretty distinct flavor from your Italian
seasoning oregano. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah,
careful with this. Mexican oregano. And then bay leaves. And for that other kick
of the avocado leaf, you can put avocado
leaf on your marinade. And then just this onion. CALEB: Yeah. Do you want me to
cut that for you? ALMA RODRIGUEZ: It’s fine. CALEB: OK. It’s probably faster your way. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Thank you. [LAUGHTER] CALEB: Avocado leaf also is one
of the foods in Mexican culture that has a lot of
emotion behind it. Lots of people really believe
in the restorative power of avocado leaf and
the flavor power. It’s like a bay leaf,
where sometimes you might not know what impact
it makes on your cooking. But then people who like
cooking with it really believe in its power to
change the flavor of a dish. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. OK. You can give the pinch
the salt. Actually, if you see the
recipe in the book, you have to make sure
everything’s looking right. CALEB: Also used to
cooking with your eyes. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. You know it’s like when I
started with the La Cocina, I have my mentor [INAUDIBLE]. I’d be like, oh, OK. How much is that? I don’t know. It’s just two pinches. I was like, how much? She’d say, I don’t know! I guess my mom she
cooks like that. I’m [INAUDIBLE]. But this is really good for you. CALEB: Well now you
all can cook like that. This is all you need. It lives forever
in YouTube fame. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Then we blender. And then in time
we have our meat. This is a stronger meat. And this time we can use the
beef, but you can use chicken. You can use pork. You can use fish, also. And you can use lamb. And maybe later we
can show you one– [INAUDIBLE] We have [INAUDIBLE]. Last week we have the
[INAUDIBLE] box for La Cocina, and we made [INAUDIBLE] with
our other chef for 350 people. That mixiote with [INAUDIBLE]. Maybe later we can show– CALEB: Have you guys
seen [INAUDIBLE] before? It’s a Cuban invention
that replicates outdoor, underground cooking. And it’s basically an above
ground, underground cooker. So it cooks from the
top and the bottom. And so we put a whole lamb
in there with this marinade. Let it cook really
slowly so when you open the [INAUDIBLE] you
can pull the lamb right off and make tacos. If that sounds delicious, she’ll
be selling that October 12 at the San Francisco
Street Food Festival. Tickets are on sale now. [LAUGHTER] ALMA RODRIGUEZ:
When you get the– CALEB: I’m just up
here not cooking. And I have to be
valuable in some way. She won’t even let
me cook an onion. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. When you have your
meat, it’s better if you put the salt
to get more seasoning. When I came here to USA, I
really missed a lot of things from my country. But it’s fine. I’m really proud to
be part of La Cocina because when I lost my
last job, I don’t know, I was really confused about what
I can do to support my family. And thus I have my son
being in the middle. In the elementary middle school. And it was really hard. And when I began to see what can
I do, what can I do about it? My older son, he said, hold on. if You cook. You really could do food. I was just like, oh, no. It’s just for you. Just my son. But then when I cooked the
mixiote and go to the La Cocina and tried to make
my business plan, and they really
liked the mixiote. And the thing is it’s a Mexican
food, but the healthy way. Why? Because it’s just steam. It’s good to steam. I don’t use any oil for cook. And I make tacos, rice
rolls, I make salad. And the people like to eat– we’ve got some flavor,
that Mexican flavor, but the healthy way. More in those days, right? Because before when my father,
or, my grandfather, he’s on– maybe he’s not that healthy. But in those days the people
said, OK, what do you using? What ingredient? What is this? It’s gluten free. This is really gluten free? It’s Latin. [LAUGHTER] It’s not [INAUDIBLE]. CALEB: You can often
hear the impact of the catering requests
of the general public on our businesses. They are more sensitive
to vegan and gluten free than I have ever been as a cook. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: You’re not
imagining how many labels I need to make when
I have my catering because they want every detail. OK. I’ll try to. I have now ready everything. But when I started, really,
I was like– this, now, this is, oh yeah. I don’t know. It’s this, da da da. But now I have my labels. They see a lot of labels
all in the display. And they’re happy. CALEB: And a lot of the cuisines
that are being cooked out of La Cocina, you’ll
see in the book, are naturally gluten
free cuisines. They’re cuisines that are
based around rice or corn. And so it’s actually pretty
easy for our entrepreneurs to be cooking to
the requirements of the contemporary culture. You can hear Alma
and Lamees when they’re talking about the food. It’s something that we talk
about on the ride out here and what we look
for in restaurants. You know, she’s
cooking for her sons. That’s what drove her
to start this business. Lamees was cooking
for her family. That’s what drove her
to start this business. And I think you’ll see, when
you go to their restaurants, that it feels uniquely like
eating in a place where they’re feeding family. And that doesn’t always
happen in restaurants. And that can’t
happen in restaurants unless we create
pathways for people who are supporting
their families to cook for their families. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. OK. I have my marinade ready. I put it with the meat. I put everything. And the other secret
for this is if you want to make the mixiote, you
can rest for the day before. Because getting more
flavor and, honestly, if you do that, your friend,
your husband, your son, they love you. CALEB: It’s a good
apology for getting chili all over your kids. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. CALEB: Worth it. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Watch. OK. You see the marinade? The marinade is a little bit–
there’s not too much water. it’s better because when the
meat comes with the juices it’s combining, getting
tender and really good. We’ll try it later,
because [INAUDIBLE].. OK. When it’s ready the day before– no. Day after, sorry. The day after, you
can put in the– maybe you have
something light weight. Like you can use the pasta. You know the pot for
the pasta is like holes, because we want to make
something that’s a steamer. Because we don’t want to fry it. We want to bake. OK. And this, you put some water. OK. Better. And now– CALEB: Then you put the water. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. You tell me. Help me here. CALEB: Yeah, yeah,
I’m all out of help. [LAUGHTER] ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. And in La Cocina we use that– what is that commercial? Big steamer like this fridge. And we have got
that kind of steamer because I use
something like that. But I put in the steamer. If I use this beans it’s
like an hour and 1/2. It soaks quickly. But for me it’s really
good because sometimes I feel like catering
for like 4,000, 5,000. And we make like a million. OK then when you cover your
meat and you have your pan, you put the foil. Then I use banana leaf
just for keep the flavor. Other than that, the banana
leaf is not any flavor. It’s nothing. But I use for to keep that down. The flavors, I use– CALEB: And very pretty when
you serve it on your table. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. CALEB: Also often found
in the frozen food isle of your Latin market. Easy find. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. The Mexican store and actual
store too, they sell it. CALEB: They have
it in Safeway now. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. And this is the avocado
leaf, and you put one bit of the avocado leaf. You can find it in the Mexican
stores, too, if you try to. And then put the
meat on the top. OK. Then you wrap first
the banana leaf. Looking like– you
know tamales, right? OK. Something like tamales. Something. Just with meat. CALEB: You guys are at home
making tamales all the time, right? ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. Then you wrap with the foil. Or, in other case, if
you have the agave skin you can use the agave
skin and give it really, really good flavor. And then when you
have your meats like that you can
put it in the oven. CALEB: [INAUDIBLE] ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. In the oven. And if you do use
the oven it depends the amount for your
meat is that time. Maybe you could take like one
hour and a half, two hours, three hours, it depends. But if you use like
an hour and a half and have like two or
three pounds, in that time you can get a perfect marinade. OK. Now we can show you how
to make the tortillas. The fresh tortillas! Because when I am
finished with your meat, you want to try to make tacos. Or if you want to go a more
healthy way you can use salad. Or if you want less
carbs, well you can– just whatever
you can put on the top. CALEB: And Alma, really
quickly, what temperature are we putting the
meat in the oven for? ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Oh,
in the oven, 350. You can put 350 for– depends the amount
we can put the– CALEB: Until it’s done. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. Until it’s done. CALEB: In the book there’s
an amount of time per pound. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. OK. Now for the tortillas I have– this is our organic dough. We use the organic dough
for making my tortillas. Actually, I have five kinds
of tortillas now for my tacos. I have a regular. I have a blue corn. I have the beef. It’s pink. I have the red is
that dried chile. And I have the nopales
with cilantro is the green. And I have the black one I can
use when I make my fish taco. It’s quick ink? CALEB: Squid ink. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, squid ink. CALEB: Squid ink. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: It’s
squid ink, yeah. OK. I have my tortilla maker. This is from my mom. She give it to me when
I started my business. I think she’s going
to give me for really want to give me this. Because I’d say, oh, Mom, can
I borrow your tortilla maker? She’d say, yes! Oh, Mom, can I
borrow your tortilla? Yes, another time. OK, thank you! CALEB: See, it’s also a very
traditional piece of equipment here, which are two
plastic bags cut out in the shape of circles. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. CALEB: Very traditional
Mexican cooking right here. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Yeah, you have need two of
the plastic things because you cannot– CALEB: Reduce, reuse, recycle. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: If
you put it free, you can stick it
out of here right? OK. You can put the plastic
and I made my balls. But this is the masa. You can put a little salt for
getting a little more flavor. But when the masa’s a little
soft, right, and this is it. CALEB: Most of the masa that
you– if you buy fresh masa, most of the masa you’ll
buy will come unseasoned. And so you might
want to taste it. And it depends how fresh it
is, it may be more liquid. You’ll figure it out quickly. Again, like rice, it’s
a process of doing it until you feel comfortable
with the touch. It’s very hard to write a
recipe because all masas are different. You can also use a maseca,
which comes in the package. Most of our entrepreneurs
in the Bay Area don’t do that because of how
easily available fresh masa is. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yes. CALEB: More delicious. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: And as for my
business, I use the fresh masa. OK. Then you put the
plastic on the bottom then put your masa in the top. And then put it all on the
top, and then put that. Just press. Sometimes when I do press– oh my god. This is not good. OK. Maybe it happens like
that you can try again. [LAUGHTER] CALEB: We planned
that to show you. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely, yeah. We need to make a really
nice round tortilla. OK. Like this! OK. Then take that first plastic. And then make sure you have a
comal or you have a plancha. Like a– CALEB: A griddle. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: The grill. Yeah, grill. CALEB: Griddle. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Like at medium heat. No, actually put high and then
you can put them in the middle here. But don’t get it
burned at the top. CALEB: And I think one
of the things that’s most important when people
make tortillas is just to watch the way that
she takes the tortilla off the plastic in her hand. Because it goes from
the plastic to her hand to the griddle in a really
intentional way so that you don’t have to
touch it too much. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. It’s like four fingers and then
it’s slow, slow, slow, slow. If you get this compost-able
plastic, it’s really good. It’s so easy to come– CALEB: For everybody. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: And then, ah! But that’s OK, though. CALEB: It’s OK, they can’t see. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Ay. [LAUGHTER] OK. Put the tortilla. OK. OK, when I put the
tortilla on the top, you can see it’s like a
little dry on the ends. It’s like two or three seconds. Then you feel– yeah. CALEB: Yeah, like
if you cook pancakes you know that at a
certain point the pancake doesn’t stick to the bottom. And it’s the same
for a tortilla. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. CALEB: There’s a
rumor that there are people in the back making
tortillas by hand right now, which is another
way you can do this. And there’s a famous saying in
Mexico because your tortillas, if you’ve made them by
hand, and they inflate– what do they tell you if
your tortilla inflates? ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Um. CALEB: Well, what
I was told when my tortilla inflated was that
I was ready to get married. [LAUGHTER] ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Yeah. When I inflated a tortilla
my mom said, actually oh, you’re getting married. You go, oh. I was 10 years old. CALEB: A legacy of– [LAUGHTER] A legacy of gender expectations. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. CALEB: Tell your sons
they’re ready to marry when their tortillas inflate. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. CALEB: I think we have
just a couple of minutes left, so maybe enough time. Three minutes left. Do you think you can make
that salsa in three minutes? ALMA RODRIGUEZ:
Yeah, so quickly. OK. And let me time– OK. Don’t forget the tortillas. CALEB: I’ll be on
the tortilla duty. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. For the salsa, I mix
these also with the salsa. It’s garlic, onion,
and chile serrano. CALEB: And the chili serrano
you cooked ahead of time it looks like? ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. You can cook or you can
put them in the griddle. If you get a little
burn, it’s so– the flavor is different. But you can burn it, too. CALEB: Mexican salsa is
one of the most fun places to begin to learn how
to experiment as a chef because there’s so many
different techniques you can approach with. You can boil, you can do it
raw, you can char-grill it. All of those things have minute
variations for your salsa. So we do a salsa
class at La Cocina. There’s infinite variations. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK. And then put the– same. You can put the broil or– CALEB: Tomatillos
here that have been peeled first and then boiled
until they turn a light green. So you can see–
or, a darker green. The color changes. That’s how you know. Or also if they float. But same deal, you can
char them with the skin on which gets it good and smoky
and then take the skins off. You can char them without it. You can do them fresh. They’re pretty
astringent, though. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Then
you can put cilantro. The cilantro is on the– what happened with the tortilla? CALEB: I know. I’m sorry. I was [INAUDIBLE]. I’m no longer ready
to get married. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Don’t
getting married. OK. And then if you want
a little more flavor you can use cilantro. Fresh cilantro. CALEB: You’ll notice, also, a
glorious use of cilantro stems. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. You can use the whole piece
because it’s really a flavor. And then salt.
And just blend it. CALEB: Once you learn
how to make a fresh salsa and how simple it is,
five minutes or less, it’s striking to
realize how much you’ve been spending on Pace Picante. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: For
me, the Mexican salsa, I don’t get it too much blended. It’s a little bit chunky. It’s better for that tacos. When you see the garlic, the
onion, it’s really better. Actually, the cilantro too. OK. Oh. OK? Here’s the salsa. And the tortillas we kind
of don’t get them inflated. CALEB: They’re not done yet? ALMA RODRIGUEZ: They’re
getting married! OK. Here’s the tortilla
and then here is– here is that. CALEB: That’s OK. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: OK, right here. Just let me see
if they’re ready. CALEB: Ooh! Ah! ALMA RODRIGUEZ: You know what? When I– usually I put
the banana leaf behind. The whole juice is
getting really good. And we can use this one, right? CALEB: Sure. That one’s for you and me. That one’s for Chef Didi. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Oh. And the garlic, you can make
a red onion with habanero. Just chop with
lime and salt. This is for a garnish, and
cilantro, on the top. But you can see
how tender it is. And the fresh tortilla. And with– Mexican style
tacos is like that. When you order the tacos,
you say, how many tacos? OK. Like this. OK. You just get something. Something fast. And you can put the
salsa on the top. And the red onion. CALEB: The garnish
was over there. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: The
garnish is over there. You can– ah, a plate. OK, look. Right here. CALEB: Thank you. ALMA RODRIGUEZ: Just like that. In Mexico you can put it
on a napkin or wherever. Plastic. You get. [APPLAUSE]

5 comments on “Alma Rodriguez and Lamees Dahbour: “We Are La Cocina” | Talks at Google

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *