Our very own Dolly Aizerman is back as a guest chef, once again. Though Dolly and I have never met in person, as of yet, we both just know that once we do, we are going to be great friends. We have so much in common. Don’t you just love her beautiful and vibrant smile? I know I sure do. 🙂
Dolly, can be found at https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/. She is famous for her very intriguing food facts and stories, as well as her delicious recipes. She has a real joie de vivre, and it shows in everything she does. Today, Dolly is bringing us her Oriental Express Ahi Tuna, in her own words and videos. Please be sure to click onto the video websites too. You don’t want to miss a thing. Most of these clips are from the movie Amadeus, a great movie from quite a few years ago, starring Tom Hulce.
Ancient Romans called the entire Eastern part of the Roman Empire Orient, from Latin oriens, which means East, or literally, rising, like the rising sun. The Land of the Rising Sun, i.e. Japan, was unknown to them. Yet as Europeans explored lands further and further eastwards, the concept of Orient kept expanding, eventually reaching Far East, which included China and Japan. By 18th century, everything even remotely Oriental became fashionable in Europe. However, in European minds, it still included everything exotic to the east of what they considered “civilized countries.” One of those exotic places was Turkey, with its mysterious harems, or seraglios, as they were called in Europe, and fantastic tales of sultans and pashas with their numerous wives and concubines.
It is no wonder, then, that when Mozart was commissioned by Austrian Emperor Joseph II to create an opera in German, he chose a lighthearted, ridiculously comical story of a pining lover Belmonte who manages to abduct his betrothed Konstanze from Selim Pasha’s seraglio, ably and hilariously added by his servant Pedrillo and Konstanze’s maid Blonde, an English girl. They get caught, of course, and are about to be executed, but at the last moment, Pasha grows a heart and lets them go (the following scene is filmed on location in Topcapi, the former Sultan’s Palace):
Don’t be surprised: this was the very first full-size opera written and sung in German, rather than Italian. The music, of course, is Italianized to the point that Emperor, who obviously loved it, still remarked:
“Too many notes” was, perhaps, an unfair assessment, but who else would write a part for a bass coloratura? Have you ever heard one? I haven’t! Besides, that same bass aria includes the lowest notes in the entire world bass repertoire, so the singer has to have an incredible range. But the actual “too many notes” appear in a different aria, the one every coloratura soprano in the world cuts her singing teeth on:
You might remember this scene from Amadeus, a beautiful and widely acclaimed film, and you might have noticed that the costumes are not exactly Turkish, but conforming to the fashion of Mozart’s times. Well, if they could do it in eighteenth century, why can’t our opera houses do the same in our days? And they started doing it: Pagliacci set in American Dust Bowl, Carmen in a contemporary bar, and Abduction from Seraglio? To preserve at least some Turkish flavor, a few opera companies, including our Florida Grand Opera, brought on stage … The Orient Express. Yes, the set recreates the legendary train, the epitome of grand luxury, “the rolling palace,” as it has been known since the end of 19th century and its maiden voyage. Dressed as the characters of Dame Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Mozart’s personages love, fight, and gloriously sing inside the splendid train.
But what about the Orient as we know it today, or the Far East: A full hundred years after Mozart, P.I.Tchaikovsky and the famous choreographer Marius Petipa have inserted this delightful piece into everybody’s beloved Nutcracker (these are kids dancing, Beautiful People, from the renown Kirov Ballet Academy):
Now you see that you don’t have to be oriental to celebrate the Orient, and thus I have taken the liberty of creating this fast and fun recipe:
Dolly’s Oriental Express Ahi Tuna
- 2 Ahi tuna steaks
- 2 -3 garlic cloves
- ½ inch ginger, grated
- Large handful of fresh cilantro
- 1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tblsp oy sauce
- 1 tblsp dry sake (rice vinegar may be used)
- 1 tblsp sesame oil
- Allspice to taste
- White sesame seeds to garnish
- Mix all ingredients, except sesame seeds. Marinate tuna steaks for at least an hour in refrigerator.
- Grill for 2 minutes on each side, reserve marinade.
- To serve, pour remainder of marinade over hot tuna steaks, sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
Enjoy! I know I sure will enjoy this scrumptious dish. I LOVE ahi tuna! I know you will enjoy it too. Thank you my beautiful friend, Dolly. I so look forward to the day when we can actually meet, in person. I know we are going to have so much fun. Until we do actually meet, jusqu’a ce qu’on rencontre, mon Amie! Je l’adore!
Always make the most of your days, or carpe diem! Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.