No time to make fish Heres how to do it &mdash in under 10 minutes

For the kosher cook, a fish dinner for Shabbat or any other special occasion is the easiest way to please all comers because it is parve. Dairy products can be used to enhance a soup and for a rich, creamy dessert. And eating fish with all its health benefits is definitely the way to go.

Still, there seems to be a mystique about preparing fish at home. One of the questions my readers ask most frequently is, “How can I present a perfectly fresh fish dish at a dinner party without a lot of last-minute hassle?”

Fish does not lend itself well to reheating. The solution is a cooking method called braising. The sauce is prepared in advance and reheated before serving. Add the fish to cook through and you have an entrée worthy of the best restaurant offering.

Here are three of my favorite fish dishes that require no more than 10 minutes of kitchen time during a dinner party.

Braised Sole with Mushrooms, Fennel and Tomatoes

Serves 6

4 Tbs. butter or oil

2 Tbs. chopped shallots

1/2 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 cup coarsely chopped tomato

1/2 cup dry white wine salt and pepper

1 1/2 lb. sole fillets chopped parsley

In large skillet, heat butter. Add shallots, mushrooms and fennel and cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Add tomato and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until sauce becomes thick, about 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. (Sauce may be prepared up to this point, refrigerated and reheated just before serving.) Add fish to sauce, cover and cook on medium-low heat, about 4 minutes. Remove fish to serving plates with slotted spoon, top with sauce and sprinkle with parsley.

Salmon with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Serves 6

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. oil

1 Tbs. chopped shallots

3 Tbs. brandy

1/4 cup dry red wine

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. green peppercorns, drained and slightly crushed

6 salmon steaks, 3/4-inch thick, about 6 oz. each

In large skillet heat butter and oil. Cook shallots until soft. Add brandy and cook about 3 minutes. Add wine and cream and cook, stirring, until thick, about 4 minutes. Add lemon juice, salt and peppercorns and cook another minute. (May be prepared ahead to this point). Place salmon in skillet, cover, and cook 6 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove fish to serving plates with slotted spoon. Bring sauce to a boil and ladle over fish.

Sea Bass Braised with Eggplant and Ginger

Serves 6

4 Tbs. olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup coarsely chopped tomatoes

1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger root

3/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chopped coriander

4 Tbs. lime juice

salt and pepper

6 sea bass (or halibut) fillets, about 6 oz. each

Heat oil in large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft. Add eggplant and cook just until it begins to soften. Stir in the tomatoes and ginger and cook about 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the coriander and taste for salt and pepper. Place the fish in the sauce and sprinkle with lime juice. (May be prepared ahead to this point.) Cover and cook over medium-low heat, 7 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove fish to serving platter. Bring sauce to a boil again and spoon over fish. Garnish with additional coriander.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].