Dishes that are made ahead are the best antidote for hot weather entertaining. Here in the Hamptons, the fish markets are abundant with local fresh fish every day. Even the simplest preparation tastes better when it’s made ahead, giving the cook enough time to play tennis, golf, walk on the beach or simply enjoy a lazy summer day.
The Latin American preparation of ceviche is great when you want to keep cool in the kitchen. Be sure to use only freshly caught fish for this dish. A purist would suggest sole, snapper or flounder but I’ve made it with bay scallops, wahoo and tuna as well. Serve it as a first course or as an hors d’oeuvre.
For the entrée assemble the fillets with leeks, tomato and scallions ahead of time and then bake just before serving. Or make the dish ahead and serve it at room temperature on a bed of spinach.
Serve a tossed green salad to complete the menu.
Carol’s Chesapeake Bay Tuna Ceviche(Serves 8 for appetizers)8 to 12 ounces fresh tuna fillet
4 to 6 limes, juiced
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 bunch cilantro or basil, leaves chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 firm ripe avocados, cubed
Optional: crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Optional: 2 to 3 tomatoes, seeded and choppedTo prepare:Cut off black fat from the tuna, then wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
Remove from freezer and cut the fillets into thin strips or small cubes.
Place in a non-reactive bowl.
Drizzle lime juice over the fish, then toss to coat.
Add onion, herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper (if using) and just enough olive to lightly coat the fish.
Cover and refrigerate about 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Just before serving, seed and chop tomatoes (if using) and avocado into small dice and toss together in a small bowl.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, then gently stir into the ceviche. Serve at once.If making for a first course, then serve on Boston or bibb lettuce. If making for hors d’oeuvres, serve on seaweed rice crackers or tamari rice crackers.Fillet Of Sole Or Flounder With Leeks, Garlic, Scallions, Lemon And Herbs(Serves 6)6 fillets of sole or flounder, approximately 7 ounces each
2 leeks, white parts only, julienned
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 bunch scallions, minced
1 tablespoon chopped summer savory, such as flat leaf parsley or mint
2 large fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/3 cup panko bread crumbsTo prepare:Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse fish under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Remove spiny column running down the middle of each fillet.
In a baking/serving dish large enough to hold the fish in one layer, lightly coat the dish with oil and scatter leeks and garlic on the bottom.
Arrange the fillets on top.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss scallions, herbs and tomatoes together with salt and pepper.
Add just enough olive oil to lightly coat.
Drizzle fish with lemon juice and scatter tomato mixture on top. (Can be prepared up to this point, then refrigerated until baking time.)
Just before baking, sprinkle panko on the tomatoes and drizzle with a few drops of olive oil.
Pour vermouth around the edges of the dish.
Bake until the top is light brown and the fish is opaque, about 20 minutes.
Pour the cooking juices in the bottom of the dish into a small saucepan, then bring to a boil, taste, and adjust the flavors with olive oil.
Pour the broth into a small pitcher and serve with the fish at the table.