Spending time in Tijuana in her youth—both living there and visiting from San Diego—chef Claudette Zepeda almost took for granted that soy sauce was a common condiment even in the city’s Mexican restaurants. Chinese and Japanese immigrants had settled in Northern Mexico, bringing ingredients with them and an organic fusion of cuisines began to happen. That intersection of Mexico’s immigrant culinary traditions has inspired how Zepeda approaches her food, whether its bonito flakes in her pozole or Worcestershire sauce in her mother’s albondigas.
After growing up loving to cook, she worked for celebrated chef Javier Plascencia and then led her own San Diego restaurant El Jardin. There she was part of a generation of chefs in California that challenged norms of what Mexican cuisine should be and garnered accolades while doing it.
In this episode of Robb Report Culinary School, Zepeda joins culinary editor Jeremy Repanich to show how she makes Ceviche Negro Sonora Style. In it she features that soy sauce so common to her favorite Tijuana restaurants along with chiles, lemon, lime, shrimp and more. In the episode she also discusses her cooking influences, drops some tips on making better ceviches and shares the places she can’t wait to visit when Covid-19 is all over.
Odds and Ends and Additional Links
- When Zepeda competed on Top Chef she faced off against previous Culinary School guests Joe Flamm and Joe Sasto.
- Zepeda offered cooking classes earlier this summer and will return with new sessions in September.
- Head to Robb Report’s Instagram page to check out more episodes of Culinary School, including Top Chef winner Mei Lin’s congee and James Beard Award-winner Chris Shepherd’s recipe for bacon chile jam.