OM Sweet Mama: Cooking With Ayda Robana

 Salmon crudo with burrata (shown with spicy green salad with citrus miso vinaigrette, top right).

Salmon crudo with burrata (shown with spicy green salad with citrus miso vinaigrette, top right). • 805.837.9009

We asked Ayda Robana of Om Sweet Mama to share a few of her favorite recipes for summer entertaining. Here, her bright, fresh dishes make the most of the season’s offerings. “This menu, along with a cold bottle of sparkling rose, is what I would serve for a light summer lunch in my garden, after a day at the beach”, says Ayda. “I believe in being intentional not only about the ingredients I use, but also how I present them – colorfully and beautifully – as a way of showing artistry on a plate.” Expressing her gratitude for the region’s bounty, she says, “We are so lucky to enjoy produce year-round from local farmers markets in the area, almost any day of the week and equally blessed by the bounties of the sea. The seafood in Santa Barbara is among the highest-quality in the United States and is coveted and revered by chefs and diners everywhere.”

Ayda Robana, a private chef and caterer in Santa Barbara for the last eight years, was among the first chefs in Santa Barbara to introduce popup meals in locations around town. Her style is highly influenced by her world travels and a bi-cultural (Tunisian /American) upbringing. In celebration of her North African roots, loves to tell stories through food and gather loved ones around a table to enjoy a meal together.



1 1/2 lbs sashimi grade very fresh Scottish salmon or King salmon, thinly sliced
3 Cara Cara oranges, segmented (or any citrus) • 1/2 bulb of thinly shaved funnel
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 burrata balls, quartered • 4-5 thinly sliced radishes • 1 cup wild arugula
1 tsp white ponzu sauce • 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar • 2 tsp high-quality olive oil

• In a small bowl, squeeze the juice from 1 orange. Quick pickle the fennel in the orange juice, rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar. Let this marinate while you assemble the other ingredients.
• Peel and segment the other two oranges and set aside.
• Thinly slice the radishes, using a mandolin if you have one, and set aside.
• Lay out the thinly sliced salmon in the center of a serving platter. • Decorate the outer edge with arugula that has been lightly dressed with salt, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
• Top the salmon with the pickled fennel, orange segments, and radishes.
• Dress the salmon with the remaining pickling liquid.
• Finish with Maldon salt (sea salt), fresh ground black pepper and a little sprinkle of ponzu. It’s also nice to sprinkle on Japanese rice seasoning (optional). Serve immediately.



1 bag spicy greens or your favorite lettuce mixture • Snap peas • Purple carrots • Watermelon radish • Golden beets
VINAIGRETTE: 1/2 a grapefruit • 1 small shallot • 1 clove garlic • 1 small nub of ginger • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp white miso • 1/3 cup olive oil • 1 tsp sesame oil
Tamari-roasted pepitas: 1 tsp tamari • 1/4 cup pepitas

• Toast the pepitas in a nonstick pan over low-medium heat, then coat with tamari and allow to cool.
• Finely chop the shallot.
• Grate the garlic and ginger into a bowl.
• Add the juice of 1/2 grapefruit.
• Add the rice wine vinegar, white miso and sesame oil and whisk.
• While whisking, slowly incorporate the 1/3 cup of olive oil.

 Meyer lemon panacotta.

Meyer lemon panacotta.


3 Meyer lemons • 1/2 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp sugar • 2 Tbsp water • 2 tsp gelatin
1 cup whole milk • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream • 1 vanilla bean

• With a vegetable peeler, peel the outside of the lemons.
• Carefully squeeze the juice into a saucepan, removing any seeds.
• Make a simple syrup using the juice of the lemons, the peel of the lemons, 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook this down for 10-15 minutes on medium heat, until it is reduced by half and the peel is tender and candied. Allow to cool.
• In a separate mixing bowl, combine 2 teaspoons gelatin and 1/2 cup of whole milk. Stir together and allow to sit for 10 minutes while you make the custard base.
• In a separate sauce pan, simmer 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream and the remaining 1/2 cup of whole milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the seeds and pod of a scraped vanilla bean. Heat to just before boiling and using a sieve, strain in the simple syrup mixture. Save the candied lemon peels to slice and use as a garnish. Bring the mixture back to just before boiling, stirring frequently.
• Remove from heat and strain again into the mixing bowl containing the milk and gelatin mixture. Whisk well, until the gelatin dissolves.
• Ladle into six 2 1/2″ ramekins. Allow to cool. Then individually cover each ramekin with cling wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
• Garnish with fresh raspberries, candied lemon peel, mint leaf, lemon curd, or creme fraiche.