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Read All About It : From once-obscure Asian cuisines to classic French to the lastest grain craze, the variety of cookbooks available for gift giving swells as Christmas approaches. To help cull the best from the rest, The Times' Food Staff has reviewed the year's most intriguing cookbooks. : Glorious Fish in the Microwave by Patricia Tennison (Contemporary Books, $13.95, 320 pages, illustrated).

December 17, 1989|JOAN DRAKE

Fifty types of fish are featured in this book of over 200 recipes, all designed to be cooked in the microwave oven. Tennison covers familiar species such as salmon and shrimp as well as the more unusual ono and porgy.

To begin, however, the author supplies information on basic microwave cooking and tips on selection, storage, preparation and cooking fish. Tennison proclaims all fish are not created equal, explaining they fall into categories of lean, moderately lean and oily. A chart of substitutions is supplied based on texture, oil content and taste.

This is followed by a discussion of the fat level of fish versus meat and poultry and a chart showing the fat content of each fish mentioned in the book. A second chart gives the nutritional content of each variety.

Chapters begin with background information on the fish, sometimes accompanied by a line drawing. Recipes are conveniently arranged with the easiest at the beginning of each chapter, those more time-consuming or requiring unusual ingredients near the end.

Tennison recommends "Browse through the chapters even if you are determined to never cook, say, amberjack. You may become tempted by Amerjack with Tomato-Dill Sauce and try the topping on your usual flounder, instead. Or you might decide to substitute trout for walleye in the Walleye-and-Walnut Salad." You won't find any recipes for breaded fish in the microwave, however, because the author says "I haven't yet found such a recipe that satisfies me." She also explains "Portions are small because this is the way I eat: small portions of fish, meat or chicken, with larger portions of vegetables, grains and fruit."

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