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Ali Miller of Oceanside

Alexandra

Alexandra "Ali" Miller, a culinary student at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI, prepares teriyaki sea bass with Asian sesame vegetables at home in Oceanside. (July 29, 2010. ) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Miller is 19 years old and a junior at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island where she studies culinary arts and food service management. When she is not at school she lives at home in Oceanside with her mom, Shari, her dad, Dennis, and her sister Danielle.

How did you get inspired to begin cooking? My grandparents were wonderful cooks. My grandparents are Polish and Russian and used olive oil and cooked lots of fish, and my grandpa cooked great meat and pasta dishes.

Did you cook with your parents when you were younger? Do they cook often? "Chef Millieux" - a play on my last name - was my cooking name growing up, given to me by my father. My parents would set up a stool in front of the oven so I could reach the top, since I was on the shorter side. Whatever they did I would follow and they would teach me. Everyone in my family is a very good cook. They did not need culinary school to teach them how to cook, they found it inside them to make dishes that the family would enjoy. My grandmother still makes recipes her mother - my great-grandmother - made in Poland. And we often cook as a family tradition.

What are you studying in school? I took classes such as stocks, soups and sauces; baking and pastry; French cuisine; garde manger (cold dishes); meat cutting; New World cuisine; dining room; beverage service; and many more. I still have two years left of school to learn even more about the managing of "the front of the house." To successfully run a restaurant, you need to learn the kitchen and the management side.

Have you worked in any restaurants? Last summer I worked at Sugo Café in Long Beach. Working with chef Adam Goldgell was an incredible experience for me as a beginner. He worked with me one on one everyday, and I learned more than I could have imagined.

TERIYAKI SEA BASS

3/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup sweet rice wine (mirin)

3 tablespoons honey

4 4-ounce sea bass filets

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons sesame seeds or black sesame seeds, toasted

1. To make glaze, combine soy sauce, rice wine and honey in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes until glaze is thickened and reduced to a little more than a cup. Set aside.

2. Pat fish dry with paper towels, sprinkle with pepper. Film a large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil. Place over medium heat and when oil is hot, lay in fish. After 2 or 3 minutes when underside is lightly browned, gently flip over. Fish is done when flesh begins to flake when tested with a fork.

3. Blot cooked fish with paper towels and transfer to a platter. Drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with Asian vegetable slaw. Makes 4 servings.

ASIAN VEGETABLE SLAW

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/4 cup of sliced plum tomatoes

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup thinly sliced sugar-snap peas

1/4 cup water chestnuts

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Makes about 1 cup.
 

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