Piscatory Panache

A delicate lattice of salmon, sole and spinach surrounded by a red-pepper puree that hints of apple and lemon-a dashing and somewhat unorthodox presentation created from ordinary fish fillets. Inspired by la nouvelle cuisine chefs who created woven combinations using fish of different colors and textures, it's an excellent choice for those who want to include more fish in their diets-and do so with panache.

When you buy fresh fish fillets, look for flesh that smells like a sea breexe(never fishy). Fillets should be shiny and have bright-red fat lines on the flesh. Firm, elastic flesh that holds together when it's picked up and that is free of any slime is also an indication of good quality and freshness. (Althoughfresh fish fillets are always desirable, don't hesitate to make use of less-costly frozen seafoods, especially during winter months, when storms tend to make fishing difficult and therfore, the cost of fresh fish highter.)

Cooking time for fish fillets depends on the size and thickness of the fish. A general rule of thumb is to allow 10 minutes per inch at the thickest part of any fish. For thinner fish fillets, however, allow proportionately less time. If you're cooking unthawed fresh-frozen fish, allow 15 to 20 minutes per inch of thickness-less time, of course, for thin fillets. As soon as the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork, the fish can be condidered cooked.

Fillets can be baked, fried, stuffed, grilled, broiled, boiled, "microwaved," barbecued or poached (the latter method was used to prepare out mosaic). To boach, add enough seasoned liquid to barely cover a single layer of fish. Simmer in shallow pan. (You can use water, broth, juice, wine or combinations therof.) Add the fish, reduce the heat and simmer (do not allow liquid to boil).

For this recipe, the fish can be prepared ahead of time and reheated just before serving.

FILLET OF SOLE MOSAIC 1 pound thin fillet of sole

1/2 pound thin salmon fillet

18 large spinach leaves

2 cups fish or chicken broth

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 large red peppers,

roasted, peeled

and pureed

1 tablespoon apple jelly

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt, pepper

Cut sole into 16 half-inch strips about 5 inches long. Cut salmon fillet into 8 half-inch strips 5 inches long. Cut stems from large (at least 5 inches long) spinach leaves. Roll spinach as thinly as possible.

For each serving, place 4 sole strips side by side lengthwise. Tightly weave 1 salmon strip about 1/2 inch from top of sole, interwining salmon strips with sole strips. Tightly weave a spinach roll 1/2 inch below salmon strip. Tightly weave a salmon strip below spinach strip. Continue to tightly weave salmon and spinach strips into sole strips so that, when all sets are done, each contains 6 sole strips, 3 salmon strips strips and 3 spinach strips. Set aside.

Place fish or chicken broth and shallots in skillet large enough to hold woven sole squares. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Using wide spatula, carefully place sole squares into hot broth. Cover and simmer over very low heat 3 to 5 minutes until fish is tender but not overcooked. Carefully remove with slotted spatula. Keep warm. Skim off any white residue from broth. Add wine to broth. Simmer over high heat until broth is reduced by half. Stir in red pepper pulp. Stir in apple jelly, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Strain sauce.

Skim any white residue from remaining broth in skillet. Add wine to broth. Simmer over high heat until broth is reduced by fhalf. stir in red-pepper pulp. Stir in apple jelly and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce into bottom of serving platter or individual plates. Carefully place sole squares onto sauce. Maked 3 servings. PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER HOGG PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER / FOOD STYLIST: LORRAINE TRIOLO / TABLEWARE FROM THE BROADWAY

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