Order this... PuPu platter and other delights at TigerFish
Chef Ross Audino is the executive Chef and co-owner with his wife Brenna of Tigerfish, now in its second season on the island. He has created a menu based on his travels through southeast Asia and his food reflects a creative fusion of the familiar, with a twist. You can order the dishes you’re familiar with — from crab rangoons to a PuPu Platter — and be wonderfully surprised by the heat in the duck dumplings, the medley of flavors in the teriyaki beef skewers, and the abundance of lobster, pineapple and curry in the Lobster Fried Rice.
A steak frites entrée showcased a Korean BBQ marinade, scallion butter and fries sprinkled with a delicious Asian seasoning. Pork spare ribs are transformed by a traditional char sui (literally means forkburn/roast) preparation which makes the ribs tender with an authentic street-food taste.
The Vietnamese fish stew, one of Ross’s favorite dishes, was perfect for two (or a very hungry one) in terms of flavor, balance, heat and complexity. This stew involves the five tastes of sweet, salty, sour, savory, and umami; an abundance of seafood and a bit of rice make the dish complete. If you have room for dessert, my friend and I could not stop eating the Vietnamese coffee ice cream with homemade donut sprinkled with toasted coconut.
As we got to know Ross’s food, we wanted to know more about Ross:
What’s your earliest food memory that made you think: I want to work in a restaurant? Everyone in my family cooked or baked. I spent much of my youth helping my grandmother, great-aunt, father and mother fold ravioli, decorate cookies, or make Sunday gravy. My first jobs were washing dishes in the local restaurant and cooking at my family restaurant. I suppose I always knew in my heart I wanted to chef, but it was not until my junior year of college that I decided to commit. I dropped out of school, packed my bags, and moved to Italy where I had the opportunity to work for some of the best chefs in the world. I still love what I do.
What made you want to be a chef on Block Island? I wanted to chef here because I saw a future for myself, and because seasonal work allowed me to travel during the winter. Having the opportunity to see other cultures and how they developed their food is an amazing and eye-opening experience. How many people get to say they've done that?!
What is your favorite food to cook with on the island? Definitely the clams. I enjoy the whole experience of taking my four-year old son into the water and harvesting, shucking and cooking clams with wine and butter. I also love watching my two-year old daughter eating them as fast as we can cook them.
What is the one food you never want to eat again? I am hard-pressed to find a food that I have tried and wouldn't want to try again. Although, I still would probably have a hard time with the fried grubs in Thailand. Something about the creamy texture got me…
If you’re eating out on the island, what other restaurant do you go to and what do you order?. If my wife and I ever score a night off together, we like to bounce around and have apps at as many places as we can. Truthfully, there are a lot of great food options here on Block Island and it’s fun to see what other people are doing. That said, I am a sucker for Sushi Bob sushi rolls.
Who was your most memorable customer? One time, Whoopi Goldberg lent me her deodorant. It’s a long story.
What’s your favorite dish to cook right now that you wish everyone would order at least once? My favorite dish to cook at Tigerfish is our Vietnamese-style fish stew. It’s so complex and nourishing and one of those dishes that leave you feeling healthy, renewed, and satiated.
To me, it’s just spicy enough, and the layers of flavor are somehow rich and fresh at the same time. I also like making PuPu platters, because I want people to be able to try, and see samples of what we are doing here. I feel there is something for everyone, and hopefully it'll leave them wanting for more!
What would you want to eat for your last meal? A Calabrese-style pizza with San Marzano tomato, spicy salame, and chilis, my father’s lasagna, a big bowl of Vietnamese-style fish stew with fresh herbs and lime, all of my mom’s Christmas cookies, and ricotta pie. Oh, and the obligatory peanut butter and jelly on a toasted pumpernickel bagel. That would be a good way to go out.