Company coming? Grill a fish Entertaining: No matter how far you live from the ocean, fresh seafood is as close as your supermarket.

May 10, 1998|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

When I was growing up in the South, I remember that when my mother planned a dinner party she always chose meat or chicken as the main course. Fish was never a part of her menu. As a consequence, when I began to cook on my own, I, too, omitted Neptunian fare when entertaining.

Gradually, I changed my attitude about fish. As supermarkets began to overflow with fresh seafood, and as more cookbooks featured fish and enticing ways to serve it, I became an enthusiast. I discovered how quickly - usually in minutes - seafood can be cooked and how delicious it is even when simply prepared. Now it is a frequent main course at my table when I invite friends for a meal.

The accompanying recipe for Grilled Fish With Tomato-Olive Sauce is one that is good to serve when entertaining a small group.

I have served quick-cooking couscous (simmered in chicken stock) and blanched haricots verts or tender green beans as side dishes. A good store-bought fruit sorbet would make a fine dessert

Grilled Fish With Tomato-Olive Sauce

Makes 4 servings.

SAUCE:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup finely diced carrots

1 1/2teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried basil

scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

dash sugar

1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style plum tomatoes, well drained and coarsely chopped

3/4 cup orange juice

1/3 cup dry white wine

14 kalamata olives, pitted and cut into slivers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

FISH:

4 (6- to 7-ounce) tuna, salmon or swordfish steaks, 1 inch thick

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon balsamics vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus

extra for grill pan

salt, freshly ground black pepper

4 teaspoons chopped fresh basil for garnish

2 teaspoons grated orange zest for garnish

To prepare sauce, heat olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and saute, stirring, 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook and stir 1 minute more. Add basil, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt and sugar and stir well.

Add tomatoes, orange juice and wine. Bring to simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and cook until sauce is thick and chunky, 12 to 15 minutes. Add olives and butter and stir until butter melts. Taste and season with more salt if needed. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, when needed.)

One to 3 hours before you plan to cook, place fish in non-reactive shallow pan. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pour over fish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or more, turning fish several times while marinating.

To cook fish, remove from marinade and salt and pepper lightly. Prepare stovetop grill pan by brushing generously with olive oil. Set over medium-high heat. When hot, add steaks and cook, turning, until flesh is opaque, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

(Fish can also be cooked on outdoor grill. Oil rack and cook according to manufacturer's instructions. You can also broil fish rTC on a rack 5 to 6 inches from heat source. Brush fish on both sides with olive oil. Place on rack in broiler pan and broil 4 to 5 minutes per side until done.)

Serve steaks napped with warm tomato sauce. Garnish with basil and orange zest.

Pub Date: 5/10/98

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