The Ingredients that Make Chef Thiago Quir a Culinary Star
Chef Thiago Quir is making a name for himself in Houston as the owner of Robusto Food House and Robusto Artisan Crafts. With Robusto Food House, he caters private dinners and conducts entertaining hands-on cooking classes. With Robusto Artisan Crafts, he produces his own line of handmade infused olive oils and unique salt combinations.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Chef Quir moved to Houston in 2007 and fell in love with the city. In 2019, his love of cooking took him to the Culinary Institute LeNôtre. During that time, as well as immersing himself in his formal training, Chef Quir spent his weekends honing his natural talents with hands-on experience in local kitchens. He successfully completed his internship at the acclaimed Indigo restaurant, which he credits with giving him “incredible experience and knowledge to use moving forward.”
A true believer in making the main ingredients in our kitchens as good as they can be, Chef Quir began experimenting with creating his own olive oil and salt in 2020. After months of combining his expertise and techniques with all-natural organic ingredients, he crafted 4 unique salts and his own infused olive oil. The result is extraordinary products that add vibrant flavor to every dish. As well as being a success in Houston, the artisanal products he creates at Robusto Artisan Crafts have become a national success. He now sells to all 50 states through his Etsy store.
With his success has come recognition from national media. Chef Quir was featured on the 2019 MasterChef Digital Cookbook, received an Eater New Guard nomination, participated in the World Food Championship Competition, and has appeared in Voyage Houston magazine and SHOUTOUT HTX magazine. CKW LUXE is delighted and honored to publish two of his amazing recipes here for our readers to try at home.
Halibut with Risotto
For the Fish:
2 yellow squash
4 ounces halibut filet
1 cup rosemary
1/2 cup thyme
For the Risotto:
1/2 cup Arborio rice
3 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup onion
1/2 cup squash
1 cup aged parmesan
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon ponzu sauce
1/3 cup white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup zucchini (for frying)
Toast the rosemary and thyme until very dark, then grind the mixture until it is a powder.
Season the fillet with olive oil, the rosemary and thyme mixture, salt, and pepper. Set it aside.
Trim the ends off the zucchini and yellow squash. Using a vegetable peeler, create long strips of zucchini by going from top to bottom. Lay the strips on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let the strips rest for about 5 minutes to draw out excess moisture.
Rinse the zucchinis and pat them dry. Lay the strips down, with horizontal edges overlapping, until you have enough strips to equal the width of your fish fillet.
Place the fish in a vacuum bag and sous vide at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
Carefully move the fish to the baking sheet and serve with the risotto.
1 whole Branzino, approximately 1 pound, scaled, gutted, fins and gills removed, rinsed and dried off
725 grams (1.6 pounds) kosher salt
8 large egg whites
1 sliced lemon
1 bunch of herbs (mint, rosemary, or thyme)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim off the tail end of the fish, if necessary, to fit the length of the gratin dish.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the salt and egg whites, and mix with your hands until the combination has the feel of wet sand. To ensure that you have added the right amount of egg whites, grab a handful of the mixture, squeeze it, and then let it go. It should fall without any of it sticking to your hand. If it sticks to your hand, incorporate more egg white.
Overlap, or “shingle,” the lemon slices, then put the lemon and the fennel into the fish’s cavity until the branzino assumes its natural shape. Pack the gratin dish or oval roaster with a 1/3-inch-thick layer of the salt-egg white mixture. Place the fish on the bed of the salt-egg white mixture, and cover it with more of the mixture, gently patting it down into an even half-inch layer that envelops the fish. Use additional mixture to fill in any cracks in the salt crust. Transfer the gratin dish or oval roaster to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven when a thermometer inserted through the crust into the thickest part of the fish registers 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
After removing the fish from the oven, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, but not longer. Use a serrated knife to slice around the circumference of the crust, carefully avoiding cutting into the fish. Lift the salt crust off, remove the fish, pull the skin off and carefully fillet.