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Books on Fish, Vegetables and Fruits

October 30, 1986|JANICE WALD HENDERSON | Henderson is a Los Angeles-based food writer and teacher

How many ways can you cook fillet of sole? The answer is plenty--at least after reading "Saucing the Fish" by Shirley King (Simon & Schuster: $16.95). You'll learn, for example, that there is no true sole in American waters, yet many varieties of fish--particularly flounder--are given this name. King, a former London caterer and New York restaurant chef, wrote this comprehensive book to appeal to both novice and experienced home cooks.

Particularly valuable is her alphabetical guide to more than 50 fish varieties, including such oddities as blowfish, skate and wolffish. Her instructions on buying and boning fish are concise. You'll appreciate her tips on restaurant cooking methods, which can be adapted for home use.

For the most part, King's recipes are simple to make and require few ingredients. She displays much creativity: shrimp with fennel and wild rice soup; baked crab with gremolata; lobster flan with avgolemono sauce. This book is a valuable addition to fish devotees' bookshelves; it affords readers an opportunity to experiment with often-pricy foods--with confidence and style.

If you've ever been tempted to buy some of the more exotic fruits and vegetables--yet you've been scared away by their high price tags--take a long look at "Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables" (Harper & Row: $25). Author Elizabeth Schneider obviously did her homework. This lengthy (522 pages), encyclopedic cookbook devotes much space to explanations of popular and undeniably trendy produce of the '80s. You'll discover not only how to select ripe fruits and vegetables, but how to store what are often highly perishable products. Nutritional facts--calorie and vitamin counts--are also highlighted.

Some of Schneider's material might seem too unusual to perceive as useful; you may never have the opportunity or inclination to eat white sapote or feijoa. Nevertheless, it's fascinating to learn about them. But surely information on and recipes for less exotic produce--like horseradish, fennel, Swiss chard and Chinese cabbage--will guarantee this book's wear and tear. Recipes such as white eggplant in coconut cream and warm papaya breakfast cake are typical; they involve few culinary techniques, yet offer great palatal intrigue. "Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables" costs a bit more than many cookbooks, but when you consider the price of exotic produce, you'll realize this book is a bargain in comparison to expensive culinary mistakes.

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