Aguachile is a citrus-marinated raw shrimp dish at Culichi Seafood and Grill in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Cocktails are served in terracotta cups at Culichi Seafood and Grill in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Fish tacos are served with traditional toppings over fried fillets at Culichi Seafood and Grill in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Scallops are one of several preparations made by Tostada at the Culichi Seafood and Grill in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Whole tilapia and whole prawns can be grilled or fried at Culichi Seafood and Grill in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Still tingling lips – and ears still ringing – half an hour after dinner, I wondered why I’d never eaten this spicy at a Mexican restaurant in southern Oregon.
Fish and shellfish are the headlines of the new Culichi Seafood and Grill in Medford’s West Main Street. But together with seafood, flavor and sound, this restaurant specializes in the cuisine of the Mexican state of Sinaloa.
Guests associating mainstream tacos and burritos with trips to Mazatlan may not have been tempted by the plethora of prawn and fish dishes preferred in this coastal region. While there are several beef and chicken dishes on the culichi menu, seafood makes up the vast majority of starters and main dishes.
In the broader “seafood” category, shrimp play the leading role in more than half of the dishes that are defined at Culichi. Fish is almost entirely tilapia, with the exception of a single grilled salmon dish. The three prominently advertised oyster dishes are complemented by various preparations with scallops, mussels, squid, crabs and clams.
A keen seafood sensibility from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska is unlikely to be satisfied with Culichi’s choices. And consumer ethics, which are in line with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, are incompatible at Culichi. But the restaurant, which opened at the end of September, offers a unique experience among local colleagues.
An exuberant ensemble of guitar, accordion and sousaphone greeted our arrival in Culichi on Friday evening. Since the early hour offered almost every table, we sought refuge in a corner niche where the intensified Spanish texts were not quite as loud.
But as the evening wore on, the music kept pace with the crowds that filled the dining room to full capacity and conversations became impossible. While the rough ambience clearly appealed to a majority of the clientele, diners who are used to chatting while they eat should consider visiting Culichi during the week.
The waiter was able to hear us well enough at first to clear up some menu descriptions and make some recommendations.
She confirmed that the closest dish to ceviche is “aguachile” ($ 20.99).
Did we also want fresh chilies?
“How hot is it?” I asked.
“Very” was the answer I declined out of consideration for my partner’s preferences. Fortunately, the decision saved my own taste buds in the end.
Since we thought fish tacos ($ 13.99) were essential, my partner and I agreed to split the order into two. Always attracted to scallops, I was delighted to see them cooked as a tostada ($ 10.99). I was even more pleased to hear that the dish omitted salad, which is so common in restaurant tostadas.
Since the fish in the tacos was fried, we felt compelled to try a grill recipe as well. The waiter vouched for the red chilli-coated “Mojarra Rellena” ($ 17.99), served with rice, salad and tortillas.
Decanted into terracotta cups, the Paloma ($ 10.99) I ordered and my partner’s “Cantaritos” ($ 12.99) included tequila, citrus juice, and grapefruit soda with a chilli-salt rim. As expected, they went deliciously with free chips, salsa, and bean dip.
The dishes came in quick succession, with barely a few minutes to savor the cold, acid-cured seafood before the warm dishes. Culichi’s “Tostada”, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t a single deep-fried tortilla with proteins and products, but a main ingredient dish, served with multiple tortilla bowls, which encouraged DIY assembly. The same crispy tortillas and saltine crackers were apparently intended for the aguachile.
The main difference between Tostada and Aguachile, other than their protein, was size. The latter was about twice the size for twice the price and could easily accommodate two or more guests as a starter. The tostada, on the other hand, would be a nice light meal for one person.
The whole, peeled, raw Aguachile prawns – cured in lemon juice and homemade green salsa – weren’t as visually appealing as the plump pink bites of a cocktail. However, the texture and the fact that some crustaceans were less cured than others suggested that these shellfish did not spoil in their marinade for long. My partner tried hard to enjoy the aguachile, but its intense seasoning combined with chewing the prawns diminished his perception of a ceviche-like dish.
The scallops were more similar to the Peruvian staple food – juicy and tender, which contrasted slightly with their sweetish marinade, which was seasoned with chilli. Buttery avocado fanned out on top gave it substantial richness, while cucumber and onion gave it crunch. I would order this perfectly proportioned, well flavored dish over and over again.
The fish tacos are also neatly plated and arranged in a variety of colors and textures and could have rivaled for the best I tried. But the taste of fish, a thin fillet encapsulated in twice as much breading, fell flat. The tacos were based on plenty of tomatoes, cabbage, onions and coriander.
Fish is unmistakable when it is ordered whole. And Culichi’s “Mojarra Rellena” kept company with five whole prawns – heads and shells intact – lazing on the sauce-doused tilapia. I pushed it aside for a moment to pluck the still hot fish and paused to say the smoky red salsa next to it was absolutely delicious.
My partner consumed the accompanying rice and salad and was grateful for their calming effect after the aguachile. I loosened pieces from the fish’s body and cut out numerous small bones that stuck a little instead of separating neatly. And just as I felt chilies burn my fingertips, my partner asked how to handle the shrimp, which was also dipped in a hot sauce.
I demonstrated how to twist off a crustacean head, peel off its legs, peel off the shell, and pinch just below the tail to preserve all of the body meat. Chopping up shrimp was apparently too much of a hassle and he turned back to his taco.
After eating more than we were full, we put the few remaining aguachile shrimp in a to-go container to fry for tacos at home – with plenty of fresh vegetables to cool the burn down.
The Culichi Seafood and Grill at 2716 W. Main St. is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. See culichi-sea-food-and-grill.business.site. Call 541-770-5770.
Employment at Medford’s Texas Roadhouse Restaurant could include tuition reimbursement.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based chain announced National Hiring Day on Monday along with its new program for employees interested in a college degree. Any Texas Roadhouse team member who works 30 hours or more per week and is eligible for benefits is now eligible for an annual reimbursement of $ 5,250 for courses at an accredited university while maintaining a C-average, the company said in a press release with.
Medford’s Texas Roadhouse location, 1720 Delta Waters Road, will conduct face-to-face interviews Monday to fill both full-time and part-time positions. Schedule interviews and read about Texas Roadhouse benefits and careers at texasroadhouse.jobdetails.io/hiringday
Texas Roadhouse encourages its roadies to love what they do today and prepare for tomorrow through extensive training and advancement opportunities. In 2020, the company spent more than $ 20 million on COVID-19-related salaries, relief and bonuses for employees, according to its press release. Also last year, Forbes named Texas Roadhouse one of America’s Best Places to Work for Veterans.
Founded in 1993, the family-owned Texas Roadhouse has more than 610 locations in 49 states and 10 other countries. The casual full-service concept offers hand-cut steaks and a selection of ribs, chicken, salads, hamburgers and vegetables. Most choices include two side dishes made from scratch and unlimited freshly baked bread and peanuts. The Medford site, Oregon’s first site, opened in 2013.
A monthly dinner series will replace the regular winter evening service at Ashland’s Hither.
Harvest Dinners are planned from November 12th to 13th at 7.30 p.m. in the restaurant, 376 E. Main St. The six-course meal paired with wines from Goldback Wine and Sound & Vision Wine Co. is $ 120 per person. Proof of vaccination is required. Make a reservation at resy.com or call 541-625-4090.
While Hither has set dinner seasonally, brunch is served daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. See here hermarket.com
The following restaurants received a perfect 100 score in their semi-annual Jackson County Environmental Public Health inspections in September:
Miners Bazaar, Jacksonville; Omars, Ashland; Porter, Medford; Prospect historical hotel, Prospect; Punky’s Diner and Pies, Medford; Rumor Lounge, Medford; Sam’s Corner, Grants Pass; Taco Bell No. 1683, Ashland; Taco Bell # 028005, West Main Street, Medford; Underwraps Cafe, Medford.
The county’s searchable database on restaurant and hospitality inspections is located at healthspace.com/Clients/Oregon/jackson/Web.nsf/home.xsp.
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Sarah Lemon has enjoyed the Rogue Valley dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s food column. Your taste buds helped judge some of the area’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the weekly food section of the Mail Tribune, writes a bi-weekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen to mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @ the.whole.dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or visit facebook.com/thewholedish.