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GOOD COOKING

Asian : Sesame, Ginger and Lime

June 24, 1993|ABBY MANDEL

When the weather is blazing, the last thing you want in the house is a hot kitchen. Other than grilling outside, the most successful summer meals are those that taste great whether they are served hot or at room temperature. Prepared ahead, these dishes give the kitchen time to cool down before the day heats up.

Asian-inspired cooking lends itself to this format. Consider this menu of skewered sweet-and-sour shrimp and red peppers, arranged over somen noodles, Japanese whole-wheat pasta that is even finer than vermicelli. These foods are not for the faint of palate, they are vibrant and highly flavored.

You may question using fresh ginger in both the marinade and the poundcake. The ginger comes off quite differently in these recipes, appropriately refreshing in each but far more subtle in the poundcake.

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I prefer to remove the shrimp and peppers from the skewers in the kitchen and arrange them over the pasta. It's a great buffet dish since the shell of the shrimp is slit down the back, making them easy to handle. A very brief marinating time is all that's required for the shrimp and peppers. You can substitute scallops for the shrimp if you want. The somen noodles, made from unbleached wheat flour, are incredibly delicate but hold up well. The secret is not to overcook them. They are ideal for cold dishes and appropriately light-tasting for summer.

\f7 BROILED SWEET-AND-SOUR SHRIMP ON ASIAN NOODLES 1 (5-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, minced 3 large cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup honey 1/3 cup peanut oil 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 2 tablespoons fish sauce 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 pounds large (21 to 25 per pound) shell-on shrimp, about 42 shrimp 2 large sweet red peppers, cut into 42 (1-inch) squares Salt Asian Noodles 3 limes, cut into wedges Cilantro leaves

Mix ginger, garlic, honey, peanut oil, lime juice, fish sauce and soy sauce in blender until as smooth as possible. (Can be made day ahead and refrigerated.) Set aside, reserving 1/2 cup for Asian Noodles.

Use kitchen shears to carefully split back of shrimp shell, leaving shell in 1 piece. Make slit down back of shrimp. Remove black vein. Wash shrimp well. Blot dry with paper towels.

Put shrimp in large plastic food bag. Add 1 cup ginger-lime marinade. Press all air from bag and secure bag close to shrimp with twist ties. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Put peppers in another plastic food bag. Add remaining marinade to peppers. Press all air from bag and secure bag close to peppers with twist ties. Marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.

Remove shrimp and peppers from plastic food bags, reserving marinade. Alternate shrimp and peppers on skewers. Place skewers, shrimp-rounded-side-up, on heavy-duty foil. Place foil on broiling pan. Bring up edges of foil to form rim around skewers. Add marinade from shrimp and peppers. Sprinkle lightly to taste with salt. Broil close to heat until shrimp are well seared, about 2 minutes. Turn and broil other side until shrimp are just done, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from broiler. Rotate skewers to coat with marinade.

Remove shrimp and peppers from skewers and arrange over Asian Noodles. Alternately, place skewers on noodles. Drizzle all marinade in foil over shrimp and peppers. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about: 720 calories; 2,279 mg sodium; 230 mg cholesterol; 21 grams fat; 90 grams carbohydrates; 44 grams protein; 1.32 grams fiber.

Asian Noodles 16 ounces somen noodles, cooked according to package directions 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced 1/2 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts 8 small green onions, thinly sliced 1/2 cup reserved lime-ginger marinade from sweet-and-sour shrimp Salt

If noodles have been cooked few hours in advance, place in sieve. Run hot water over until strands are warm. Toss with hands to separate strands. Drain well. Transfer to large shallow mixing bowl.

Add cilantro, peanuts, green onions and lime-ginger marinade. Toss until well mixed. Season to taste with salt. Arrange on serving platter. Makes 6 servings.

SESAME, CUCUMBER AND CARROT SALAD 3 large English cucumbers, peeled, scored with fork, split lengthwise, seeded, thinly sliced 6 medium carrots, shredded 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar 2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil 2 teaspoons grated orange zest 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt 3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

Put cucumbers and shredded carrots in 2-quart bowl. Toss to mix well. Separate any cucumber slices sticking together.

Combine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, orange zest and cayenne pepper in small dish. Add to vegetables. Toss to mix well. Cover airtight. Chill. Can be refrigerated up to 6 hours.

To serve, drain liquid. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. Toss to mix well. Season to taste with salt. Toss in chives. Serve chilled. Makes 6 servings.

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