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Microwave . . .

Winning Flavor Combinations Featuring Seafood

March 17, 1988|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

Microwave ovens and seafood are a winning combination because seafood is naturally tender and deserves minimum cooking to preserve its delicate texture and flavor. The penetrating energy of microwaves not only means fast cooking but less drying, making it the perfect method for seafood.

Today's interest in nutrition and health has boosted the sale of seafood. Fish is high in protein, B vitamins and many minerals. Except for processed, cured or smoked fish, most seafood is low in sodium.

But the increase in seafood sales isn't due solely to its nutritional value. Improved methods of preservation and distribution make seafood more widely available than it was.

Seafood should be cooked with care. The main rule is: Don't overcook. In the microwave, cook seafood just until the outer areas are opaque while the center is still firm. The center will complete cooking if the fish is allowed a few minutes standing time after removing it from the oven.

More Cooking Time

Fresh fish fillets and steaks generally take about two minutes each to microwave at HIGH power. But remember that when microwaving more food, that means more cooking time. As you increase the number of fillets or steaks, you need to increase the total microwave time.

Always arrange fish so the thickest areas are to the outside of the dish where they'll be exposed to more energy than if in the center. If the oven does not have a carrousel, rotate the dish periodically. If not covered with a sauce, fish can be turned over after half the cooking time has elapsed. This will encourage even cooking.

Shellfish, which varies more in size, takes approximately 6 minutes per pound at HIGH power. Shellfish is good steamed in its own juice or in a flavored butter sauce in a covered dish.

SOLE AND SHRIMP IN CREAMY LEMON SAUCE

1 pound medium or large uncooked shrimp, shelled, deveined and halved lengthwise (about 2 cups prepared)

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped green onions

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds sole fillets

Chopped fresh parsley

Place shrimp, 2 tablespoons butter and green onions in 12x8-inch microwave dish. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 3 to 5 minutes, stirring every minute, until shrimp start to lose translucence. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in 1-quart microwave casserole. Microwave at HIGH about 30 seconds, until melted. Immediately whisk in flour, then milk. Continue whisking until smooth. Whisk in salt, lemon peel and pepper. Microwave sauce at HIGH 4 to 7 minutes, whisking every 2 minutes, until thickened and smooth.

Arrange shrimp evenly in cooking dish. Layer sole fillets over shrimp, thickest parts to outside of dish. Spoon hot sauce over sole. Cover with plastic wrap turned back at 1 corner to vent.

Microwave at HIGH 10 to 14 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn every 5 minutes, until sole is firm and cooked. Let dish stand several minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Makes about 8 servings.

SALMON STEAKS WITH CUCUMBER SAUCE

4 (4-ounce) salmon steaks, cut 1/2-inch thick

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Hot pepper sauce, optional

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup shredded unpeeled cucumber

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

1/4 teaspoon salt

Place salmon steaks with thickest parts to outside in 12x8-inch microwave dish. Combine melted butter, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce to taste in small cup or bowl. Brush lemon butter over tops of salmon.

Cover dish with wax paper. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 8 to 11 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn every 3 minutes. At this point, thinnest part of fish should be cooked and thickest parts should be almost done.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, cucumber, parsley, chives and salt in small bowl. Spread cucumber mixture over hot cooked salmon steaks and return to microwave at HIGH for 1 to 2 minutes, until cucumber is heated through. Makes 4 servings.

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