For the man who Grills everything Take Dad out to an elegant meal in the backyard

June 13, 1993|By Marlene Sorosky | Marlene Sorosky,Contributing Writer

If the dad in your life fancies himself King of the Grill, he's probably also the kind who'll swear on a stack of briquettes that everything right down to cornflakes tastes better cooked over glowing embers in the great outdoors.

Father's Day is your opportunity to treat him at his own game. Take him out -- outside, that is -- to reaffirm that the best seafood grill in town is right in your own backyard. No hassles here. Reservations are unnecessary. No hour-long waits. Every dish is prepared to order. You know the ingredients are fresh. Service is superb. And the price is right.

Dad might prefer garden seating or a lounge chair with a barbecue view -- open kitchen design is very "in" these days with the chic and trendy restaurant crowd. Serve the honored guest his favorite libation, and then let him watch you whip up a very special dinner worthy of the occasion.

Since you prepared the crumb coating for mesquite grilled salmon with crisp crumb crust earlier in the day, all the work is behind you. You may be skeptical about putting bread-crumb-coated fillets on the grill, thinking the crumbs might burn, but actually they get brown and crisp and crunchy. And the sensational smoky flavor of the mesquite chips permeates right to the center of the fish.

lTC The recipe comes from Michael James' book, "Slow Food," and I first made it for a party in his honor. It was the hit of the evening. I have made one slight modification to the original recipe -- I added an egg white, which acts as "glue" to ensure the bread crumbs adhere to the fish. To assure getting center fillets cut 1-inch thick, you might call your local seafood store or supermarket and order them ahead.

An easy accompaniment to this entree is fresh vegetables on skewers, which can be grilled right along with the salmon. Although the recipe suggests brushing the vegetables with sesame oil, you might wish to experiment with walnut, hazelnut or olive oil. Any vegetable that retains its shape when cooked can be grilled with outstanding results. Choose colors and shapes that are complementary. Some good choices that don't need precooking are leeks, red or yellow onions, green onions, mushrooms, green and yellow squash, eggplant, and red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers. Baby carrots, snow peas, and white or sweet potatoes should be partially cooked either on top of the stove or in a microwave until barely tender before grilling on skewers.

For a very simple dessert that requires no precooking, assemble frozen peach tortoni pie ahead of time and keep it in the freezer. It is rich, luscious and low in fat when made with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.

Mesquite grilled salmon with crisp crumb crust

Makes 6 servings.

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Grill time: 4 to 6 minutes.

Advance preparation: Bread crumbs may be refrigerated for one week or frozen.

Salmon may be coated with crumbs and refrigerated up to 6 hours before grilling.

5 cups fresh white or egg bread crumbs, made from slightly stale bread (about 10 slices)

6 salmon fillets, cut 1-inch thick

1 egg white, lightly beaten

salt and pepper to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

wedges of lemon for serving

If the bread is soft and fresh, either leave uncovered at room temperature for several hours turning once, or bake at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning once until it dries out slightly. Cut the crust off bread, tear into small pieces and process half at a time in a food processor with the metal blade until it is reduced to crumbs. Remove to a shallow dish. Wipe salmon and season with salt and pepper. Brush both sides with egg white and dip into crumbs, pressing so they adhere. Drizzle top lightly with olive oil. (The salmon may be refrigerated loosely covered with foil up to 6 hours. Bring to room temperature 1 hour before grilling.)

Place grill rack 3 to 4 inches from coals, grease it, and prepare coals. Soak a handful of mesquite chips in water for at least 30 minutes; drain. When coals are hot, add mesquite chips. Grill the salmon covered with the lid of the barbecue -- to impart a smokier flavor and to keep the coals from flaring up -- for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until almost cooked through, but still slightly translucent in the center. It will continue to cook after it's removed from the heat. Remove to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Grilled vegetables on skewers

Makes 6 servings.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Grill time: 10 to 14 minutes

Advance preparation: Vegetables may be assembled on skewers up to 6 hours ahead.

24 baby carrots

1 red onion

1 red pepper

2 medium zucchini

1/4 cup sesame oil

salt and pepper

6 metal or wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before assembling

Place carrots in a pie dish with 1/4 inch water. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on high (100 percent) for 8 to 12 minutes, stirring once, until barely tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Or blanch in boiling water on top of the stove. Cool to room temperature.

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