Fresh Tuna Burgers With Sesame-Ginger Mayonnaise

(3 sandwiches)

Something fishy is happening to the burger scene these days. Although this is definitely not the hamburger from your childhood, it very well may become a staple in your recipe repertoire. This idea is from John Boswell's "A Man and His Pan" (Andrews McMeel, $16.95). Boswell recommends serving this burger with coleslaw and a frosty mug of beer.

About 1 pound fresh tuna, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 scallions, (white and tender green parts) thinly sliced

3/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons peanut or canola oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 large hamburger buns or sandwich rolls

About 12 leaves flat spinach, stemmed

Tomato slices

Place the tuna in a food processor and pulse to chop until coarsely ground. (Be careful not to puree.) Transfer the tuna to a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise. Shape the tuna mixture into 4 patties. Cover the patties and refrigerate.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/3 cup mayonnaise with the scallions, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Cover and refrigerate.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the patties to the pan and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Turn, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until done, 4 minutes for medium-rare.

Meanwhile, toast the buns (if desired). Transfer the tuna burgers to the bun bottoms. Top each burger with some of the sesame-ginger mayonnaise, a few of the spinach leaves and some tomato slices. Set the bun tops in place and serve immediately.

Per burger: 527 calories, 38 gm protein, 17 gm carbohydrates, 33 gm fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 5 gm saturated fat, 482 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

The Quest for Best Chef in the World

What do you do to challenge yourself when you've mastered cooking for 400 people every night? Tracy O'Grady, the sous chef at Kinkead's in Foggy Bottom, is heading to France and the Bocuse d'Or, an international culinary competition that seeks out the best chef in the world.

To get there, O'Grady endured semifinals and finals last year and emerged the U.S. representative to the 2001 international competition in Lyons. She'll have 5 1/2 hours start to finish to produce two perfect platters for 12--one that features scallops and pollock and the other squab. And she's got to bring every pot, pan and dish she needs with her.

To raise awareness of the competition (and the estimated $80,000 that her boss Bob Kinkead figures the equipment, food products, practice time, air fares, hotels and labor will cost), Kinkead's is hosting three special dinners. The first, next Monday will be prepared by O'Grady and some of her chef pals (including Ris Lacoste of 1789 and Susan McCreight Lindeborg of the Morrison Clark Inn). At $150 per person, it's already sold out, but two more (in September and January) are scheduled.

"American cooking has accomplished a lot in the last 25 years," says O'Grady. "This is an opportunity to show the world what we can do."

For information about the next two dinners, call Mimi Schneider at Kinkead's, 202-296-7700.

To Do

FRIDAY: Riesling: the Greatest and Most Misunderstood Noble Grape Variety--class and tasting with Rob Stewart. $35. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Arlington Hilton, 950 N. Stafford St. Call 703-685-7970.

FRIDAY: Art to Taste--edible masterpieces from local pastry chefs at the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts Benefit. $100. 8 p.m.-midnight. The Great Hall at Fannie Mae, 3900 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Call 202-393-2826 Ext. 23.

FRIDAY: Soiree Gauguin-- French Polynesian dinner, art lecture and dance lessons at the Alliance Francaise. Special chef: Ken Tamashiro. $49 for nonmembers. 7 p.m. 2142 Wyoming Ave. NW. Call 202-234-7911.

SATURDAY: The Art of Tasting Wines--lecture, tasting and food pairings at DC Coast. Guest speaker: Sarah Jane English. $45. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 1401 K St. NW. Call 800-496-1733.

SUNDAY: The World's Best Fried Chicken--cooking demonstration and book signing with "Fried Chicken from Memphis to Milan, from Buffalo to Bangkok" author Damon Lee Fowler. Free. 3-4 p.m. Borders Books & Music, 5871 Crossroads Center Way, Bailey's Crossroads. Call 703-998-0404.

MONDAY: French wine dinner at Melrose Restaurant sponsored by the Wine Tasting Association. Guest speaker: local importer Olivier Daubresse. $98 for nonmembers includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. 24th and M streets NW. Call 703-765-8229 or www.winetasting.org.


JUNE 23: Banfi Vintners six-course wine dinner at the Capitol View Club Restaurant. $69 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. Hyatt Regency Hotel, 400 New Jersey Ave. NW. Call 202-783-2582.

Rocklands Is in A Very Nice Pickle, Six of Them, in Fact

Customers line up at Rocklands for melt-in-your-mouth barbecued brisket and killer corn pudding. Owner John Snedden has legions of fans. Now he's in the pickle business, with a line of six pickled products. Overall, they are on the mild side. (Spice lovers should pick a hot sauce from Snedden's Wall of Fire.) Our favorites are the very cute cocktail-size Pickled Green Tomatoes (16-ounce jar, $5.99) and the Beet Pickles (16-ounce jar, $3.99), sweet baby beets with just the right texture. The Pickled Okra (16-ounce jar, $3.99) and Dilly Beans (16-ounce jar, $4.99) may remind you of your grandmother's. Snedden, in fact, got the recipe from his grandmother, Nana Hawley.

The pickles are available at Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company, 2418 Wisconsin Ave. NW (202-333-2558); and Rocklands at Carpool, 4000 Fairfax Dr., Arlington (703-528-9663).

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Addicts of Tony Chachere's Famous Creole Seasoning (the Louisiana alternative to Old Bay) can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Now, instead of making a pilgrimage to Louisiana to acquire their fix, they can simply visit this site and peruse Cajun and Creole goodies galore: blackening spices and countless mixes for etouffees, dirty rice and gumbo, to name just a few. Or just have fun learning how to make Cajun specialties from scratch while listening to Zydeco or Swamp Pop tunes.