Eating light, but well is the way to survive summer's high temperatures. A pleasant way to do this is to concentrate on seafood. Available in tempting variety because the demand is so great, fish and shellfish are refreshing to the palate and help keep the kitchen cool because cooking time is brief.
Much of today's stylish cookery centers around seafood. The following recipes, chosen from three Southern California restaurants and a winery, testify to this.
Scampi Spumanti is a bright-tasting dish from Magia Caffe Italiano on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Bathed in a light, fresh tomato sauce, the shrimp are served on a plate of fettuccine. Fresh herbs and arugula contribute to the lightness of the sauce, which is far removed from the robust, heavy spaghetti sauces that warm the soul in winter. A salad of mixed baby lettuces and a bottle of chilled white wine turn this dish into a beautiful meal.
During a really sultry spell, revitalize guests with a sophisticated dinner of cool foods. The main course is cold poached salmon, wonderful for a party because it can be prepared hours ahead and refrigerated. Christine Brown, chef at the Grand House in San Pedro, decorates the salmon with buttery avocado rosettes, which contrast pleasingly with the rosy color of the fish.
Few dishes are as easy to prepare and at the same time as elegant as the broiled sea scallops that Nick Dockmonish, executive chef, turns out for the New Otani Hotel and Gardens in Little Tokyo. Dockmonish lines each plate with a reduced mixture of mirin, fresh ginger, brown sugar and soy sauce. Onto this go sea scallops that have been dipped in sesame oil and broiled. The dark background sets off the pale scallops, and the sesame oil adds an appealing nuance of flavor. A scattering of chopped chives completes the dish.
The sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated, then reheated just before serving. It takes only 3 minutes to broil the scallops, making this a remarkably practical dish for entertaining.
Breaded fish fillets are fairly standard. Combine diced macadamias with the bread crumbs and the effect is far from standard. This way of treating baked fish comes from the Callaway Vineyard and Winery at Temecula. There the fish is served with a Chardonnay-flavored beurre blanc that is liberally speckled with chives. A cool cucumber soup or gazpacho and a packaged blend of long grain and wild rices are ideas for accompaniments.
2 ounces fettuccine
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
Pinch crushed dried red chiles
6 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied
3 ounces dry Sherry (6 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 (1/2-ounce) package arugula
3 large fresh basil leaves
Cook fettuccine in boiling salted water in large saucepan until tender but still firm. Remove fettuccine to colander but retain water in pan and keep hot. Heat skillet. Add olive oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and crushed chiles. Heat until mixture sizzles. Add shrimp and saute until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp and set aside. Add Sherry to skillet, ignite and boil until reduced by half. Add butter and tomatoes and cook, tossing tomatoes in pan, until heated through. Return shrimp to skillet. Add arugula, basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, return water in saucepan to boil.
Drop fettuccine into water and boil 10 seconds to reheat. Drain and place on heated plate. Place scampi mixture on top of fettuccine, arranging shrimp with tails upward. Serve at once. Makes 1 serving.
COLD POACHED SALMON WITH AVOCADO ROSETTES
4 cups unseasoned fish or chicken stock
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 medium onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
4 salmon fillets, each about 1 inch thick (about 2 1/2 pounds total weight)
1 large avaocado, peeled
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Combine stock, vinegar, onion, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste in 12-inch skillet. Bring to boil, reduce to low heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Place salmon fillets in single layer in skillet. Return liquid to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes. Remove salmon with slotted spoon and cool. If desired, salmon can be wrapped and refrigerated. When ready to serve, combine avocado, lemon juice, parsley, garlic salt and Worcestershire in food processor. Add butter, adjusting amount to size of avocado. Process until pureed. Place in pastry bag fitted with rosette tip. Pipe avocado rosettes on top of salmon. Garnish with rose fashioned from tomato peel. Makes 4 servings.
BROILED SCALLOPS WITH GINGER SAUCE
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
2 tablespoons brown sugar
12 sea scallops