“I Can’t Cook” (Oh Yes You Can!)

“I can’t cook”, I hear that all the time and I always give the same answer: “It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you don’t”.

Cooking is like riding a bike – the more you do it the better you get. That may seem like a silly analogy, and it is – but it’s also true. The first time you rode a bike you probably fell off, maybe even the next couple of times too. But now you can ride and I’m guessing well. The first time many of us cook something, it may not come out right. But with a little experience, you learn to adjust seasonings, cook temp, cook time or whatever needs adjusting. My first poached egg was an overcooked stringy mess. But now they’re not just beautiful to look at they’re also perfectly runny when you cut into them. Thank you practice  (and patience).

Along with my ‘riding a bike’ line, I also deliver advice to those who believe they are culinary challenged: start cooking…start cooking anything! Find a recipe you’ve wanted to try and go for it. But don’t take on a challenging one – give yourself a chance. Positive results go a long way to making you want to cook more. For example, Salmon Wellington might be a bad place to start – but a deliciously simple salmon burger with wasabi mayo is not (see the pic & recipe).  And don’t forget to pay attention to anything that doesn’t work out so you can adjust it next time.

Oh, and since you’re trying things – why not ride a bike again?  It’s probably been a while and it’s as much fun now as it ever was.


Salmon Burger with Wasabi, Cilantro Mayo

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4

Salmon Burger with Wasabi, Cilantro Mayo

Salmon burgers are often canned salmon formed into a patty. But these are salmon fillets quickly seared until beautifully crispy and served with a wasabi/cilantro mayo. Say goodbye salmon patty…


Four 6 ounce salmon fillets

Olive oil

Kosher Salt & freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup mayo

1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste

3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine

4 burger buns, something interesting like a good whole wheat or multi-grain

Tomato slices


  1. Lightly drizzle salmon with oil and season well with salt & pepper
  2. Combine mayo, wasabi paste & cilantro - mix well and set aside
  3. Heat non-stick pan to medium high and cook salmon on both sides until done but still a little rare in the middle
  4. Toast buns and add sauce, tomatoes and salmon
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Sam Zien

is host of the TV show Sam the Cooking Guy, author of 3 cookbooks and a frequent guest in the Today Show kitchen. He’s also and proud of his “big in taste but small in effort” cooking style — “food that anyone can make,” he likes to say.

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