In my house we are cooking every day lately and enjoying it immensely. The hard part is coming up with new ideas of what to have for dinner. I get that comment all the time in my cooking classes, which is why so many people take classes — to learn new stuff!

I have been perusing through old cookbooks and that gets me motivated to branch out and make a new recipe. Often times I glance at a recipe and then change it to suit my taste, adding a little more garlic here, a fresh herb there and voila — you have created your own recipe. That is the thing, there are no “new” recipes just versions of the same dish that have been made for centuries. I mean how many ways are there to cook a piece of fish? That is why I came up with the idea of writing recipes with at least two alternatives. For example, if you have an Asian fish recipe and want to make it Italian, simply change the flavoring from sesame oil to olive, replace ginger with garlic and cilantro with basil. It is actually very simple if you have any inkling about food at all.

My cookbook “Simple Real Food” has tips at the end of each recipe for make ahead ideas and alternatives to change the flavor or substitute one type of protein for another.

I have written the following two recipes with just this type of thinking in mind to get those creative juices flowing. Get into the kitchen and get cooking!

Grilled Ahi Tuna with Aioli

Serves 4


1 lemon, juiced

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tbs. olive oil

Salt, pepper

1 piece ahi grade tuna, two pounds, cut into four steaks


1 large egg

3 anchovies

2 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped

2 tbs. lemon juice

1 tbs. chopped parsley

1/4 tsp. cayenne

3/4 cup canola oil


Combine the lemon, garlic, olive oil salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add tuna and turn to coat. Marinate up to one hour but no longer. In a processor combine the egg, anchovies, garlic, lemon, parsley and cayenne and process 30 seconds. Add the oil slowly through the feed tube while it’s running. Season with salt to taste. Heat a grill and lightly spray with vegetable cooking spray. Grill the tuna 2 minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board. Slice the tuna against the grain and serve with the aioli sauce.

Sesame Grilled Tuna with Ginger Soy Sauce

Serves 4


1 piece ahi grade tuna, two pounds, cut into four steaks

1/4 cup sesame oil

3 tbs. soy sauce

Wasabi soy sauce

1 tbs. wasabi powder

3 tbs. soy sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup mirin

1 tbs. toasted sesame oil

2 tsp. minced ginger

3/4 cup combined black and white sesame seeds, toasted

2 tbs. canola oil


Combine the tuna with the sesame oil and soy sauce in a medium bowl. Marinate for 10 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the sauce. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over med-hi heat. Remove from the heat and taste, adjust seasoning. Place the sesame seeds on a baking sheet and coat the tuna in the seeds. Heat a grill pan over high heat for 5 minutes. Lightly spray with vegetable cooking spray. Sear the tuna 2 to 4 minutes on each side, depending on desired doneness. Remove to a cutting board. Slice the tuna against the grain and place on 4 dinner plates overlapping slightly. Ladle the sauce over the tuna and serve warm or room temperature.

• You may use salmon or sea bass instead of the tuna. You may make the sauce ahead and reheat before serving. This sauce is also good on chicken or pork.

Amanda Cushman is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for 25 years. She teaches privately for groups of two to 20 students. She has developed hundreds of recipes for cookbooks as well as food magazines and Web sites. She can be reached

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