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Go Fish!

From swordfish to lobsters, exotic sea urchin to succulent monkfish, America's waters are home to a stunningly diverse array of fish and shellfish that are ideal for home cooking.

In his cookbook, "Go Fish," celebrated New York chef Laurent Tourondel shows home cooks how to prepare delicious, flavorful seafood dishes.

Tourondel, Executive chef of BLT Steak, is an acknowledged fish fanatic. This book shows home cooks how to create elegant, mouthwatering meals. He offers beautiful and easy-to-follow recipes for the fine art of preparing restaurant-quality seafood at home. The book features more than 100 recipes infused with flavor, style, and simplicity. Tourondel also suggest wines for each recipe.

In "Go Fish," Tourondel explains why he likes to cook fish: "I've found that it's easier to achieve great flavor with fewer ingredients in less time with fish and shellfish than with any other type of food."

Because the book is aimed at American home cooks, it only features fish from American waters. In the beginning of "Go Fish," Tourondel lists the fish and shellfish called for in the book.

RECIPES:

Fried calimari with half-cooked Tomato broth

Serves 6: this is my take on fried calamari, which is usually served with italian marinara sauce for dipping. My version features a lighter flour coating instead of the usual cornmeal, a tomato broth, and a salad piqued with the addition of mustard oil. When making this dish, use your largest pot to keep the calamari from crowding. To add extra flavor, top the tomato salad with a spoonful of mayonnaise enlivened with chopped fresh herbs or pesto mayonnaise (see step 1, page 26) before adding the calamari.

Ingredients
1/4 cup green beans, preferably french haricots verts, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch segments
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion
6 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped, plus 1/4 cup diced seeded tomato
1 sprig thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons mustard oil (available from middle eastern shops; also see mail order sources)
3 bunches watercress, tough stems removed
2 pounds calamari (squid), cleaned and cut into 1 inch rings
1 cup wondra flour (see page 53)
vegetable oil, for frying

Blanch the beans: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. Add the bean segments to the boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Make the tomato broth: Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent , approximately four minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, thyme, and sugar. Stir, cover, and cook just until the tomatoes begin to break apart, three to five minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the tomatoes with their juices to a food processor. Puree until as smooth as possible, then strain through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Discard the solids. Add the tabasco and sherry vinegar to the tomato broth and season with salt and pepper. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least three hours.

Make the vegetables: Put the diced tomato, red onion, and green beans in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the mustard oil. Set aside.

Dress the watercress: Put the watercress in a small bowl pour the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper. Toss and set aside.

Fry the calamari: Toss the calamari in the flour in a strainer and shake to remove any excess. Pour the vegetable oil into a pot to depth of four inches and heat to a temperature of 375º Fahrenheit. Add the calamari to the pot in batches and fry until golden brown, two to four minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt as soon as it comes out of the oil.

To serve, mound some vegetables in the center of each of six shallow bowls. Top with some calamari, then some watercress. Ladle some tomato broth around the vegetables.

Wine suggestion: Vincent Raimbault, Vouvray 2000; Loire Valley. A white with melon and pear fruit that has a nice acidity and touch of earthiness.

Baked whole sea bass with Meyer lemon

Serves 6. If you're lucky enough to put your hands on a great fresh, whole fish, there's nothing better than simply baking it with olive oil and lemon juice, which allows you to appreciate the flavor of the fish itself. Serve this with aioli (recipe follows) and/or pair it with grilled summer vegetable tart.

Ingredients
1 whole black sea bass, 4 to 5 pounds
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 bay leaves
1/2 meyer lemon, thinly sliced into 10 pieces, plus juice of 2 lemons, preferably meyer lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crusted

Preheat the oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Prepare the fish: Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Score the skin 10 times on each side. Place a bay leaf in one slit, a lemon slice in the next, and continue in this manner, tucking them into the flesh on both sides of the fish. Lightly grease a baking dish large enough to hold the fish with olive oil, using you fingers to spread it evenly. Put the fish in the dish, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and scatter the garlic cloves around the fish.

Bake the fish: Bake the fish in the oven, basting with the pan juices every 10 minutes or so, until the fish appears opaque to the center if you pry apart the flesh at one of the slits, 35 to 40 minutes.

To serve, present the fish whole at the table and remove portions with a knife and fork, being sure to remove and discard the bay leaves.

Wine suggestion: Jean Dauvissat, Vallons 2000; Chablis. A lean elegant French white with ouches of minerals and lemons.

Aioli

Makes about two cups. This condiment is delicious with most white-fleshed fish, as well as vegetables.

Ingredients
1 large head or 2 medium heads roasted garlic (see page 243)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons water
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the garlic and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. With the machine on, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream, then add the canola oil in the same fashion to form an emulsified dressing. Beat in the water and season with salt and pepper.

Steamed banana baba with rum syrup

Serves 6: I strongly recommend that you serve this dessert, a simplified version of the classic baba, which is traditionally made with yeast, with whipped cream or crème diplomat (recipe follows). You can make it the morning of the day you plan to eat it, and reheat it later in a microwave to prevent it from drying out.

Ingredients
13-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup self-rising flour (presto)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 11/2 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup water
11/2 cups chopped roasted pecans, preferably caramelized

Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit. Generously butter six three-ounce baba molds or muffin tins with two tablespoons of the butter.

Make the batter: In a small bowl, mix the flour and baking soda. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 4-1/2 tablespoons of butter until creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated. Add the banana and beat to mix in. Using a large spatula, fold the flour mixture into the banana mixture until incorporated. Spoon the batter into the ramekins and set in a baking pan. Carefully pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the cakes: Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cakes are firm but spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the ramekins to a rack with tongs. Let cool slightly. Run knife around the side of the cakes, then invert onto a rack to cool.

Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining seven tablespoons butter with the sugar, rum, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the sauce from the heat.

To serve: Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons some of the rum sauce onto each of 6 plates. Top each with a warm cake, and garnish the cakes with a few pecans.

Wine suggestion: Lustau, Pedro Ximenez, "San Emilio" Jerez. A sweet sherry with rich toasted, roasted aromas and nuances of nuts, figs, and dates.

Pastry cream and crème diplomat

Makes three cups. This is a very useful recipe for a basic pastry cream. Crème diplomat is a pastry cream with liqueur and whipped cream added. The one here uses kirsch, but it can be made for other uses with grand marnier, rum, cointreau, amaretto, or another liquer.

Ingredients
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split in half
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a pot, combine the milk and vanilla bean, and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile in a bowl, mix the yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch. Slowly pour the hot milk over the mixture and combine. Return to the pot and set over high heat. Stir constantly with a whisk and cook for four minutes after it comes to a boil. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove and discard the vanilla bean. Place the pastry cream in a bowl and refrigerate until completely cold.

For crème diplomat, make the pastry cream as described above. Stir two to three tablespoons of kirsch into the cooled pastry cream and whip in 1 cup heavy cream.

Bay scallop, blue cheese, and fig salad

Serves 6: This is my adaptation of a typical fall salad of blue cheese, figs, and walnuts, adding small bay scallops to the mix. If you like, you can replace by scallops with three or four dry sea scallops per person. For an even more flavorful dish, strain the burgundy-colored fig marinade, reduce it to a syrup over high heat, and drizzle it around the scallops and salad on the finished dish. (note that the figs must soak for 24 hours.)

Ingredients
1/2 cup port wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 fresh black mission figs
20 walnut halves, coarsely chopped
6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 11/2 cups)
1 belgian endive, tough core discarded, cut into thin julienne strips
2 bunches watercress, thick stems discarded
2 heads frisee lettuce, yellow part only
1/2 apple, cut into thin julienne strips
5 ounces fourme d'ambert or other mild blue cheese, crumbled
mustard vinaigrette (recipe follows)
about 1/4 cup olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
11/4 pounds medium bay scallops (about 54 scallops)

Marinate the figs: Put the port, vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Make a small x incision on the top of each fig. Remove the pan from the heat and add the figs. Let cool, then cover and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Toast the walnuts: Warm the walnuts in a dry sauté pan over medium heat, shaking occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.

Saute the bacon crisp: The bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat; drain on paper towels.

Make the bacon-frisee salad: In a large bowl, toss together the endive, watercress, toasted walnuts, frisee, bacon, apple, and blue cheese. Toss with most of the vinaigrette, then taste and add more vinaigrette until it is as thickly dressed as you like.

Saute the scallops: Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a deep, wide sauté pan over high heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, add them to the pan in batches and sauté them quickly, shaking the pan to ensure even cooking, until golden brown, approximately one minute per batch adding more oil between batches if necessary.

To serve: Divide the scallops evenly among six plates. Quarter the figs and arrange four pieces on each plate. Top with some salad.

Wine suggestion: Leacocks 10-year-old, Bual Madeira, or another Bual-style Madeira, with aromas of dried fruits, fig, and smoke.

Mustard vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
fine sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and vinegar. Slowly add the canola oil in a thin stream, whisking until the dressing is thick and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Fourme d'ambert is one of my favorite blue cheeses, much creamier and less assertive tan, say, roquefort. It comes from the Auvergne region of France, which I'm also very fond of. If you're wondering how blue cheese can be served on the same plate as bay scallops, you'll understand when you taste this gentle giant. If you can't find it, opt for a mild American blue like point reyes.

Julienne refers to long, thin slices of vegetables or other ingredients that resemble long matchsticks.