Louie and Zov, An Irresistible Culinary Marriage

Chefs, Cooking, Recipes, Restaurants By Apr 01, 2015

Chef Louie Jocson makes Sumac-Scented Bass

and Zov Transforms the Bistro Design

At 15, Louie Jocson put down culinary roots with Zov Karamardian and her family-run restaurant. Working as a dishwasher at Zov’s Bistro and Bakery in Tustin was his first job. Zov recognized his potential and encouraged him to attend culinary school.

He took her advice, graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco before working his way up the ranks at many of Orange County’s noted restaurants. In 2011 he opened Red Table in Huntington Beach where he was executive chef and partner at the acclaimed restaurant.

Sometimes life has a way of coming full circle. Last summer, Jocson sold his shares in Red Table and returned to Zov’s in the prestigious role of director of culinary operations. His reunion was just in time to help open Zov’s Anaheim, the newest of Zov’s five eateries in the county.


His delectable Sumac Crusted Sea Bass is a dish that shows the flavor marriage of Zov’s vibrant flavor profiles and his understanding of the evolving culinary scene.


… sumac …

Sumac, the tart brick- to purple-red dried berries produced on wild bushes that grow in subtropical and temperate regions of the world (including the Eastern Mediterranean), adds both color and brightness to the dish.

The Video Tells All: Coated with salt, pepper and ground sumac, the grilled fish sits atop a bright green tangle of green vegetables and is topped with a citrus-y beurre blanc sauce.

Kitchen Staples

 … urfa pepper …

Favorite new-to-you ingredient: Thanks to Zov, he has discovered the urfa pepper. It’s moderate in heat and has enticing smokiness and earthiness, as well as subtle chocolate notes. He uses it dried and ground to finish off soup, risotto or herb butters used on top of grilled steak. Or, he says it is crazy good sprinkled on vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes along with a little coarse salt.


Likes and dislikes: He has an extremely broad spectrum of foods that he enjoys. But there is something about processed peanut butter that Jocson doesn’t like. He says he would rather eat fish eyeballs.

Kitchen music: He likes to listen to Dean Martin when he cooks. He says it makes him feel good, especially the “song about the moon looking like big pizza pie.”

ZOV transforms her Bistro in Tustin

She “raised the bar!”


Wrap-around bar – cocktails, draft beers, bar-food menu.

Zov has unveiled the $750,000 remodel of her flagship restaurant in Tustin whose centerpiece is a wrap-around wood bar that features a dedicated food menu as well as expanded artisan cocktails, 25 wines-by-the-glass and several craft beers on tap.


The extensive remodel also includes the addition of 2 private state-of-the-art dining rooms accommodating groups of up to 15 and featuring audio/visual capabilities; updated lighting system with soffit illumination and several imported fixtures; new furnishings including dining chairs and tables as well as newly upholstered banquettes; and other features.



Sumac Crusted Sea Bass with Spinach and Shaved Brussels Sprouts

Yield: 2 servings
2 (6-ounces each) Australian sea bass (barramundi) skinless fillets, see cook’s notes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Enough sumac to generously sprinkle one side of fillets
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved top to bottom
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups shaved Brussels sprouts, see cook’s notes
2 cups spinach leaves
Garnish: 2 tablespoon microgreens, see cook’s notes
Cook’s notes: Salmon fillets or any mild white fish fillets can substitute for the Australian sea bass. The easiest way to shave (thinly slice) Brussels sprouts is to use a mandolin, but you can also cut crosswise with a sharp knife. Microgreens as immature salad greens harvested when they are only 14 to 20 days old; they are sold at Trader Joe’s in refrigerated plastic containers.
1. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle sumac over one side. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat in a skillet that is large enough to hold both fillets in a single layer. Brown fish sumac-side down; turn and heat until cooked through. Remove fish and set aside; keep it warm.
2. In a hot pan on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add shallots, garlic and capers; cook just until garlic is tender but not browned, about 1 minute. Add orange juice, lemon juice and tomatoes; cook about 1 minute to reduce liquid. Off heat, stir in butter one piece at a time, allowing butter to melt before adding the next chunk.
3. Meanwhile, in another pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high heat. Add spinach and Brussels sprouts. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach wilts and mixture is piping hot. Place vegetable mixture in center of two plates and top with fish. Pour sauce on top and around fish and garnish with microgreens.
Source: Louie Jocson, director of culinary operations, Zov’s Bistro and Bakery (Tustin), Zov’s Cafes (Irvine and Newport Coast), Zov’s Anaheim, Zov’s at John Wayne Airport


… A quick tip from Melissa’s …


Black bean tostadas – a quick and easy last-minute meal.

So tasty and so quick when using canned beans.

Black Bean Tostadas with Radishes, Cherry Tomatoes and Avocado


Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 (15-ounces each) cans black beans
8 tostada shells
Garnishes: 1 sliced avocado, 3 thinly sliced radishes, 1 cup shredded Jack cheese or queso fresco, lime wedges, salsa, sour cream
1. In a skillet, warm oil on medium heat. Add garlic, onion and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 8 minutes. Stir in cumin and chili powder. Add beans to pan with their juices. Stir and mash until beans are a chunky mixture –  only partially pureed. Heat through, stirring occasionally.
2. Assemble: Top each tostada shell with about 1/2 cup bean mixture. Top with garnishes and serve.

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