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THE CATERING RACE : Caterer's Choice

March 25, 1993

These are recipes that L.A.'s top caterers are proud of--or at least willing to let the competition take a look at. Don't worry--we've tested them.

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These appetizers from Good Gracious! are very easy to cook and are wonderful as finger food.

ASPARAGUS WITH SWEET-AND-SOUR DRESSING

2 bunches thin asparagus, ends trimmed

2 teaspoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup oil

In rapidly boiling water, briefly cook asparagus until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, pat dry and set aside.

In jar, combine sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and oil. Shake until ingredients combine in smooth dressing. Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

108 calories; 150 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.94 gram fiber.

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This appetizer from La Cuisine was a huge hit with The Times Food staff; they'd surely be a hit with your guests.

KOREAN-MARINATED SHRIMP

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup Sherry

1/2 cup sesame oil

2/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons chopped ginger root

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Grated zest 1 orange

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (16 to 20 per pound size)

Orange slices

Watercress

In large mixing bowl, mix orange juice, Sherry, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and orange zest. Add shrimp and marinate 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from marinade. Drain.

Saute shrimp in batches in hot, flat, non-stick skillet, 1 1/2 minutes per side. Heap on plate and garnish with slices of orange and watercress. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

236 calories; 557 mg sodium; 227 mg cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 31 grams protein; 0.07 gram fiber.

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This recipe comes from Somerset. It calls for a center-cut of tuna so that you end up with perfect rounds.

SEARED TUNA TACO HORS D'OEUVRES

12 won ton skins

Oil

1/2 pound center-cut loin of tuna

1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice powder

Ginger-Sesame Mayonnaise

Pickled ginger

Daikon sprouts

Cut won ton skins into 24 (1/2-inch) disks and deep-fry to golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Season tuna with Chinese 5-spice powder. In heavy-bottomed skillet, sear on all sides over high heat until charred on outside and rare on inside. Allow to cool. Spread each won ton disk with 1/4 teaspoon Ginger-Sesame Mayonnaise. Slice tuna into medallions and place on mayonnaise. Garnish with pickled ginger and daikon sprouts. Makes 24.

Each serving contains about:

93 calories; 71 mg sodium; 15 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.04 gram fiber.

Ginger-Sesame Mayonnaise

3 tablespoons minced ginger root

3/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2/3 cup peanut oil or canola oil

2 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

In blender, process ginger, garlic, salt, egg yolk and lemon juice on high speed 30 seconds. Mix peanut oil and sesame oil and add slowly to egg yolk mixture with motor running to make thick mayonnaise. (Save egg white for another use.) Adjust seasonings to taste. Makes 1 cup.

Note: Although many recipes call for uncooked eggs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found them to be a potential carrier of food-borne illness and recommends that diners avoid eating raw eggs. Commercial egg substitutes may be used in place of raw eggs in certain circumstances. Check egg substitute package for applications.

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This soup from Rococo was served at the luncheon at which the former President honored Mikhail Gorbachev with the first Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. The presentation, in red peppers, is lovely.

RED PEPPER-PEAR SOUP

11 sweet red peppers

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 pear, peeled and quartered

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup butter

1 quart chicken stock

Roast 2 peppers under broiler. When charred, peel and seed and set aside. Seed and slice 6 more peppers.

In medium skillet, saute sliced peppers, carrots, pear and garlic in oil and butter 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Add chicken stock, bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes. Add 1 roasted pepper and puree in food processor until smooth. Chill.

To assemble, cut remaining 3 peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Ladle soup into peppers and garnish with roasted pepper slices. Makes 4 1/2 cups, or about 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

173 calories; 610 mg sodium; 21 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.21 grams fiber.

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This recipe from Rococo makes a wonderful garnish for chicken or pork.

MANGO-BLACK BEAN SALSA

6 cups diced mangoes

2 cups finely diced red onions

2 cups cooked black beans

3 to 4 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

4 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice

4 teaspoons ground cumin

Salt, pepper

Combine mangoes, onions, beans, jalapeno chiles , cilantro, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Chill. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

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