Writing about food is a piece of cake.

But today it's melba toast.Writer's block is no picnic. By now, I should be immersed in our Tuesday topic - fish. Instead, I'm trapped like a journalistic Jonah, waiting for a yawn.

One idea is all it would take to jump-start this . . ..

Hang on . . . let me get the phone.

It was nothing important - just a "Mr. Jones" conducting some telephone survey. And yes, I would mind answering a brief four-hour questionnaire.

Jones. I wonder . . . DAN Jones?

The Oracle of Opinion? The Pollstergeist?

That's it . . . my lead . . ..

I'll begin with a survey . . ..

Would you like to take a fish poll?

Yes? Then stay away from Gart Brothers. Now, begin.

QUESTION #1: Would you rather cook fish sticks or fresh fish?

QUESTION #2: Does the idea of cooking fresh fish in your own kitchen cause a painful pinching sensation between your cheek and gums?

QUESTION #3: Three words: Bratten's. Seafood. Grotto. Do you crave clam chowder?

If you answered Yes to #1: You are unable to differentiate between Orange Julius and Julia Child.

If you answered Yes to #2: Pity.

If you answered Yes to #3: You're a traveling oyster cracker salesman or a barn-and-raised-here type.

If you're a native, you'll surely remember Bratten's Fish Grotto, the Seafood Mecca of the Mountain West.

The place was no Fisherman's Wharf, but the clam chowder was great. Oh, how we loved that rich soup. The "secret" recipe was enshrined in every cookbook in Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming.

In retrospect, Bratten's served up more than fish platters. Desert-dwellers like me were born seafood-challenged - unaware of the delights beyond salmon loaf. Bratten's was the ticket to a brave new world beyond Bumblebee tuna.

And then one day, Bratten's closed forever.

Our School of Fish was gone.

Oh, there were a few places to get decent fish, but they weren't memorable.

We were in the throes of a Fish Famine. It would last for years. . . .

People carped. They complained about having to visit the coast for fresh seafood.

But hark! There on the horizon . . . the lobsters were coming . . . the lobsters were coming!

The Great Restaurant Renaissance was under way - guided by Gastronomy, a group of entrepreneurs who had suffered too long in a vast right-wing fish tank.

They opened three seafood-fueled eateries: The New Yorker, Oyster Bar and Market Street Grill. We had been freed from freezer burn!

Planeloads of fresh fish are flown to Salt Lake daily, destined for restaurants, supermarkets and ski resorts.

Fish sales are doing swimmingly.

Scott Loring, executive chef of Market Street Oyster Bar says his customers consume 300 pounds of fresh shellfish each day.

Today, Loring shares some of his sauce recipes that will enhance any type of fish. Included are complete recipes from the Oyster Bar.

Make friends with a fillet. It will do your sole good.

*****

RECIPES

MUSTARD, CORIANDER AND FENNEL SEED CRUSTED

CHILEAN SEA BASS WITH LEMON-BASIL BUTTER Sea bass ingredients:

4 7-8 ounce Chilean Sea Bass fillets

1/2 cup whole mustard seed

1/4 cup whole fennel seed

1/4 cup whole coriander seed

3 eggs, beaten

Butter, margarine or olive oil to saute

Lemon-Basil Butter ingredients:

1 pound butter, melted

2 lemons

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Pinch salt, pinch black pepper

2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

To prepare sea bass: Combine the seeds in an electric coffee grinder and puree. Dip the fillets in egg and dredge in the powdered seed mixture. Place a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter or margarine, or heat the olive oil. Cook the fillets 6-8 minutes per side, until the crust is golden brown and the fillets are cooked throughout.

To prepare Lemon-Basil Butter:

Grate the rind from the lemons and chop finely. Juice the lemons and set aside. Combine all ingredients and whip in a food processor until smooth and fluffy.

To serve: Place the hot fillets on warm plates and place one tablespoon of butter over each. Serve with fresh seasonal vegetables and rice or potatoes. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 1221 calories, 109g fat, 19g carb, 1235mg sodium, 375mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Scott Loring, Market Street Oyster Bar

HAZELNUT CRUSTED STURGEON

WITH HONEY LEMON GLAZE

Sturgeon ingredients:

4 7-8 ounce Sturgeon filets

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted

2 tablespoons butter, margarine, or olive oil

Honey Lemon Glaze:

1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate

1 cup water

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1/2 cup honey

3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

1 green onion, finely chopped

Pinch salt

Pinch black pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch

To prepare sturgeon: Combine hazelnuts and bread crumbs in food processor and puree until fine. Dip sturgeon fillets in egg and dredge in the hazelnut-bread crumb mixture. Place a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter or margarine, or heat the olive oil. Cook the fillets 8-10 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked throughout.

To prepare the Honey Lemon Glaze: In a 2-quart saucepan combine lemonade, honey, water, wine, jalapeno peppers and bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons of water and add to the sauce. Simmer 5 minutes.

To serve: Place the fillets on warm plates and spoon the sauce over them. Serve immediately on warm plates with seasonal fresh vegetables and rice or potatoes. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 706 calories, 33g fat, 54g carb, 496mg sodium, 15mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Scott Loring, Market Street Oyster Bar

PARMESAN BREADED PETRALE SOLE

WITH TARTAR SAUCE Petrale Sole ingredients:

4 7-8 ounce Petrale sole fillets (English or Dover sole may be substituted)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (do not use fresh)

1/2 cup Japanese bread crumbs (pan-ko, or regular bread crumbs)

4 tablespoons butter, margarine or olive oil

3 whole eggs, beaten

Tartar Sauce ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons dill relish or dill pickle, minced

2 tablespoons onion, minced

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon capers, chopped

Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 ounce buttermilk

To prepare petrale sole:

Dip the fillets in egg and dredge in bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs firmly into the fillets. Place a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter or margarine, or heat the olive oil. Cook the fillets over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.

To prepare Tartar Sauce:

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate 30 minutes.

To Serve: Place the fillets on warm plates and serve with tartar sauce on the side. Serve with seasonal fresh vegetables and rice or potatoes. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 890 calories, 67g fat, 11g carb, 1269mg sodium, 214 mg cholesterol

- From Chef Scott Loring, Market Street Oyster Bar

SOUTHERN FRIED CATFISH WITH REMOULADE SAUCE

Catfish ingredients:

4 7-8 ounce catfish fillets

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup cracker meal

3 tablespoons Cajun spice (Paul Prudhomme Redfish Magic)

3 tablespoons oil

Remoulade Sauce ingredients:

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

2 tablespoons capers, chopped

1 tablespoon anchovies, chopped (anchovy paste may be substituted)

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon tarragon flakes

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

3 dashes Tabasco

1 green onion, chopped

To prepare catfish:

Dip fillets in egg and dredge in cracker meal. Place a cast iron skillet or a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat. Cook the fillets for 6-8 minutes on each side, until dark brown and cooked throughout.

To prepare Remoulade Sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.

To Serve: Place fillets on warm plates and pour sauce over each. Serve with your favorite southern vegetable. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 490 calories, 18g fat, 29g carb, 3458mg sodium, 209mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Scott Loring, Market Street Oyster Bar

NEW ZEALAND ORANGE ROUGHY

WITH GRAND MARNIER MARMALADE

Orange roughy ingredients:

4 7-8 ounce fresh orange roughy fillets

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons margarine or oil

Grand Marnier Marmalade ingredients:

1 cup orange marmalade

4 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or orange flower water)

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

2 tablespoons shallots, chopped

Pinch of salt, pinch of black pepper

To prepare orange roughy:

Place a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat and melt the margarine or heat the oil. Dredge the orange roughly fillets in flour and cook 4-5 minutes on each side, until light lightly browned and cooked through.

To prepare Grand Marnier Marmalade: Combine all ingredients in a two-quart saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

To serve: Place the fillets on warm plates and pour sauce over them. Serve with seasonal fresh vegetables and rice or potatoes. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 719 calories, 10g fat, 98g carb, 263mg sodium, 58mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Scott Loring, Market Street Oyster Bar