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MENU PLANNER

Fish Dad

June 15, 1995|DONNA DEANE | TIMES TEST KITCHEN DIRECTOR

All dads are not created equal. Meaty and macho may be what first comes to mind when you think of a Father's Day menu, but is it fair to assume every dad is a steak-and-potatoes kind of guy? (Note to meaty dads: Tell your progeny to ignore this column, turn on the grill, lay out the steaks and get cooking.)

We propose this hearty fish stew dinner as an alternative to the usual Father's Day meal. It's not only a refreshing change, it's also delicious and easy to make.

Prepare the stock for the stew the day before serving. Most fish shops are more than willing to give you fish bones and heads free for the asking. Just be sure the bones are very fresh--they should not have a strong "fishy" smell--and the flesh is bright, firm, springy and translucent. Fish eyes should be bright, clear and bulging. Freshness makes all the difference in the flavor of the finished stew.

Once the stock is made, the stew is very quick to finish. The fish cooks in minutes, so watch it carefully to prevent it from overcooking and drying out. We used halibut in our recipe because it is a firm, white-fleshed fish that holds up well in soup, but any firm-fleshed fish may be substituted.

The orange-and-fennel salad and hard-crusted bread is all that's needed to accompany the stew. Save some of the fennel fronds to garnish the salad platter.

For dessert, choose a mixture of your favorite fresh berries and let them macerate in Grand Marnier and sugar for several hours. You can also prepare our easily made adaptation of a classic creme anglaise in advance. When ready to serve, spoon the chilled sauce over the berries. Pick up a few chocolate biscotti at the market to go with this--they're a great match.

Menu

Halibut Stew

Fennel and Orange Salad With Citrus Vinaigrette

French Bread

Mixed Fresh Berries With Grand Marnier and Creme Anglaise

Staples

Garlic

Onion

Olive oil

Chicken broth

Celery

Peppercorns

Salt

Lemon

Sugar

Black pepper

Cornstarch

Vanilla bean

Eggs

Shopping

1 (3.2-ounce) package (or 3 ounces bulk) dried shiitake mushrooms

1 pound tomatoes

1 bunch bok choy

1 pound halibut

3 pounds halibut fish bones

2 small fennel bulbs

1 pint strawberries

1/2 pint blackberries

1/2 pint raspberries

Small bottle Grand Marnier

1 pint half and half

1/2 pint whipping cream

1 loaf French-style or rustic bread

Chocolate biscotti

Oranges

Game Plan

Day before dinner: Prepare fish stock, strain it, let it cool, then chill.

Morning of dinner: Prepare creme anglaise. Chill.

Two hours before dinner: Clean fresh berries. Let fruit macerate until serving time. Prepare dressing for salad. Julienne fennel and slice oranges for salad. Arrange on serving platter. Cover and chill.

One hour before dinner: Prepare halibut stew.

Last minute: Slice bread. Drizzle salad dressing over salad. Serve halibut stew.

After dinner: Serve berries with creme Anglaise and chocolate biscotti.

HALIBUT STEW

FISH STOCK

3 pounds fish bones

1 small onion, sliced

2 small pieces celery stalk

3 cloves garlic

4 peppercorns

Salt

Cold water

Combine fish bones, onion, celery, garlic, peppercorns, salt to taste and enough cold water to cover all in large stockpot. Bring to boil. Skim off foam. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Strain. Reduce strained stock to equal 4 cups. Strain finished stock through cheesecloth. Let cool, then chill until ready to use.

STEW

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced onion

1 (3.2-ounce) box dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

1 quart chicken broth

1 bunch bok choy, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 pound halibut, cut into 2-inch chunks

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add garlic and onion and saute until tender and onions begin to brown slightly around edges. Add mushrooms. Saute 2 to 3 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Stir in tomatoes, Fish Stock and chicken broth. Heat to boiling. Add bok choy and halibut. Return just to simmering. Heat few minutes just until bok choy is tender and fish is cooked through.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

235 calories; 654 mg sodium; 25 mg cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 21 grams carbohydrates; 22 grams protein; 2.83 grams fiber.

ORANGE AND FENNEL SALAD

2 small fennel bulbs

2 oranges

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt

Cracked black pepper

Trim and cut fennel bulbs into julienne strips. Set aside. Take 1 to 2 strips and mince to make 2 teaspoons. Peel and slice oranges. Set aside.

Arrange fennel strips on chilled serving platter. Place orange slices atop fennel in attractive pattern.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, minced fennel, sugar, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad just before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

119 calories; 65 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.23 gram fiber.

MIXED FRESH BERRIES WITH CREME ANGLAISE

CREME ANGLAISE

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup half and half

1 cup whipping cream

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