Big Things Happening for the Cordúas With Release of First Cookbook and New Churrascos
December will be a big month for the Cordúas.
Photo from Cordúa Restaurants A new Churrascos is expected to open in Memorial City in December.
The Cordúa family's first cookbook, Cordúa: Foods of the Americas, is being released next month, and the fourth Churrascos in Houston will be opening, in Memorial City. Both the cookbook and the new restaurant are symbols of the family moving in a new direction -- or, rather, an old one.
The menu that was developed for the new restaurant (and is now the primary menu for all Churrascos restaurants) reflects a move back toward the more traditional Nicaraguan food that brought the family fame when Michael Cordúa opened his first restaurant, in 1988. Some of these original recipes are included in the cookbook, as are current recipes, and, as David Cordúa, Michael's son, says, a little bit of a sneak peek into the future.
Though the new restaurant isn't opening until sometime in December (the date has yet to be announced), the revamped Churrascos menu is already a hit. I was able to try some of the new dishes, including ceviche verde, David Cordúa's take on green juice made from fruit and leafy greens. The ceviche is a refreshing blend of peruvian blue tilapia, cucumber agua de chile, green apple slices and crispy baked kale chips. New ahi tuna ceviche tastes almost Italian-influenced with its basil, red chili, black-olive purée and tuna topped with a rice croquette.
Another great addition to the menu are taquitos de malanga, mini taco shells made of taro root stuffed with sweet pulled pork, pineapple pico de gallo and crema fresca. Unlike normal corn taco shells, the taro root shells are thin and don't crumble under the weight of a bite. They crack, but they stick to the good stuff inside of them, so you get a balanced taco from the first bite to the last. Of course, they're small, so they're really only about three bites.
Perhaps the piece de resistance of the new menu, and David Cordúa's favorite addition, is what's simply called "whole fried fish." It's a fresh market catch, but the day I tried it, it was branzino. David Cordúa explained that there's a traditional Nicaraguan drink called pinolillo that's made with corn meal, cocoa and cinnamon. Instead of using those ingredients in a drink, though, he's used them to create a crust on the fish before frying it. The result is delicate seafood with a crunchy, slightly sweet outer coating that you can pick apart and eat with your fingers. It's served with a tamarind glaze and a coconut tomatillo sauce, but I liked it plain. He called it "fish candy," and that seems as apt a description as any.
Photo by Nick Scurfield The whole fried fish is butterflied, so the unique batter coats every part of it.
Of course, the old favorites that made the Cordúas famous are still on the menu, including the signature churrasco of center-cut beef tenderloin topped with chimichurri sauce and the divine tres leches cake. There's another traditional dessert on the menu that I'd never encountered before, but certainly hope to again, and again: The Pio X. It's named after Pope Pius X, who died in 1914 and was later canonized, and the dessert itself is certainly divine. It's a bread pudding triﬂe thats been soaked in a tequila and caramel sauce then topped with a creamy custard. It's sinfully good.