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Seafood Makes Great Barbecue

July 03, 1986|ANNE WILLAN | Willan, a cooking teacher and author, is founder and president of La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris. She lives in Washington. and

Two summers ago I was invited to Alaska by the Seafood Marketing Institute to look at fish. The great outdoors is not my style, so it was with misgiving that I spent a whole day sitting in a small boat.

But the salmon bit on schedule and soon I, too, was hooked. We baited crab pots in the wilderness as the sun went down, and I managed to land a 20-pound halibut--good sport as well as excellent eating.

This menu is a souvenir of all I enjoyed on that memorable trip. Barbecued fish kebabs are hard to beat provided they are marinated, then basted often during cooking so they do not dry out. Giant Alaska shrimp are delicious moistened with grated cucumber and spiced with ginger and cilantro, an idea that echoes the Asian influence on the Northwest coast.

Excellent for Kebabs

A firm fish like halibut also makes excellent kebabs. Here, pieces are skewered with slices of spicy chorizo sausage, an idea from western France where oysters on the half shell are served with hot little sausages. A side dish of chopped tomato and basil, half sauce, half puree, cools the heat.

In Seattle, on my way back from Alaska, I found small peppers, eggplant and squash just right for broiling beside the kebabs on the barbecue. The vegetables can be brushed with oil and lemon juice or basted with the extra shrimp marinade.

Bursting With Berries

I was lucky enough to hit berry season, and Seattle's Pike Place farmer's market was bursting with novelties like red blueberries, salmon berries (a pink raspberry) and great black boysenberries that exploded like caviar in the mouth.

What better way can fresh berries be enjoyed than packed in a crisp crust of sweet pastry and topped with a tart red currant glaze? This is the moment to look for local strawberries, blueberries or raspberries--whatever your farmer's market has to offer.


Oriental Shrimp Kebabs

Halibut-Sausage Kebabs

Tomato-Basil Sauce

Broiled Summer Vegetables

Blueberry-Strawberry Tarts

Suggested wine: White Sauvignon Blanc from Washington.

Like all barbecues, half the fun here is sharing preparation and cooking. With the help of a few friends, an hour is enough to assemble the party.

Up to three days ahead, bake tart shells and store in airtight containers.

Up to four hours ahead, make Tomato-Basil Sauce. Chill the wine. Prepare Halibut-Shrimp Kebabs, then refrigerate. Prepare the vegetables, then refrigerate.

Up to two hours ahead, finish the fruit tarts. Refrigerate until serving time. Set the table and prepare the fire in the grill.

About one hour before serving, light the fire.

About 15 minutes before serving, start barbecuing the vegetables.

About 10 minutes before serving, barbecue the kebabs. ORIENTAL SHRIMP KEBABS

4 pounds large unpeeled shrimp

3/4 cup oil

Juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup grated cucumber

1 1/2 tablespoons ginger root, grated

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried chiles

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Thread shrimp on 16 small kebab skewers. Place in shallow dish.

Whisk oil with lime juice. Add cucumber, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, salt, chiles and cilantro. Pour over kebabs. Cover tightly. Refrigerate up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Broil kebabs over coals or under broiler 3 inches from heat until lightly brown, turning once. Allow 2 to 3 minutes per side. Baste often with marinade. Makes 16 servings.

Note: For easy eating, shrimp can be peeled before broiling. HALIBUT-SAUSAGE KEBABS

1 1/2 pounds halibut

1/2 pound chorizo sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Tomato-Basil Sauce

Cut fish into 1 3/4-inch cubes, discarding skin and bone. Cut sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Alternately thread fish and sausage on 16 small kebab skewers. Arrange on shallow dish.

Whisk oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper until mixed. Spoon mixture over kebabs. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate in refrigerator up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Broil kebabs over coals or under broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat until brown, turning once. Allow 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with Tomato-Basil Sauce. Makes 16 servings.

Note: Any firm-fleshed fish such as swordfish or monkfish can be used instead of halibut. Tomato-Basil Sauce

4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup basil leaves, coarsely shredded

Salt, pepper

Place tomatoes in bowl. Stir in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 cup basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

Just before serving, add remaining 1/2 cup basil. Makes 3 cups sauce.

Note: Lacking basil, add any fresh aromatic herb such as oregano, tarragon or chives. BROILED SUMMER VEGETABLES

4 green peppers, cored and quartered

4 sweet red peppers, cored and quartered

4 small unpeeled eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes

8 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

8 small yellow squash, cut into 1-inch chunks

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