Although the repertoire of a great many backyard cooks may start with hamburgers and end with steaks grilled over mesquite, there's a lot more that can be done out there -- and it's not that exotic or difficult. For instance, fish and seafood are easy to grill.

No additional expensive equipment is needed in most cases. A wire brush, long tongs, a metal spatula, a grill that is relatively clean, a clean one-inch paint brush and a small dish of vegetable oil will see you through any of the recipes that follow.

Keep the fish from sticking while cooking by using a stiff wire brush to remove excess build-up and the paint brush to cover the grill lightly with oil. Cook over low to medium-high heat, since fish and seafood flesh are more tender than meat and excessive heat will cause sticking, toughening of the fibers and dryness of the flesh.

After cooking, let fish stand loosely covered in a warm place for five minutes to allow fibers to relax from the direct heat, and the fish juices to flow back through all the flesh. Serve fish on warm plates since it cools quickly.

Look to your local fish market for inspiration. Consider the texture of the fish in the recipe and, for variety, substitute that day's fresh fish. For example, interchange firm-fleshed fish such as tuna, swordfish or monkfish. Try scallops or shrimp instead of salmon, oysters and mussels for clams, and flounder or turbot for sole.

Unusual ingredients are easy to find in the Washington area because of the diversity of ethnic markets and expansion of local supermarkets into specialized ingredients. Their inclusion in a recipe adds particular zest for this summer season. Most marinades benefit from aging overnight to develop flavor.

Experiment with a variety of fish, seafood and seasonings this summer to surprise family and friends. As all of the recipes that follow can be cooked indoors successfully under the broiler if the weather does not cooperate, you might adapt them to indoor cooking and enjoy them all year. GRILLED CLAMS WITH CILANTRO (4 first-course servings)

Even clams can be cooked directly on the grill, but I prefer to grill them in a pan to preserve marinade and juices. Use mesquite or hickory chips for an added dimension when cooking.

18 cherrystone clams, scrubbed

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce*

2 tablespoons cold water

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek (chili paste)*

4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (coriander)*

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 long loaf french bread, sliced 1-inch thick

Refrigerate scrubbed clams uncovered on a rack over crushed ice until ready to grill. To make the sauce, mix lemon juice, lemon zest, fish sauce, water, sambal oelek, 2 tablespoons cilantro, butter and pepper in a small saucepan. If you really dislike cilantro, fresh parsley, not dried, may be substituted. Refrigerate until serving time.

Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Heat basting sauce in saucepan on grill until butter is melted. Check clams, since some may have opened to breathe. Tap the clam shell gently with a knife. If the shell closes, the clam is alive. Discard any opened clams that do not close. Place clams in a baking dish or two 8-by-10-inch disposable foil pans and set onto grill. Cover barbecue and grill clams for 5 minutes undisturbed. If grill has no cover, use a foil tent over the pan. Have long tongs nearby.

The clams will take a total of 15 to 20 minutes to cook. Baste open edges generously with the cilantro sauce every 5 minutes, using tongs as needed to secure clams. Cover grill between basting. If clam juices are evaporating during cooking, reduce heat. At end of cooking time, the clams should open wide. Add any unused basting sauce to pan to heat through with remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro. Taste pan juices, and adjust seasonings if necessary, adding water if too salty. Cover clams and keep warm.

Grill french bread slices for several minutes until crisp, and serve with clams to soak up accumulated juices.

*Available in Oriental markets. Cilantro is also available in Spanish markets. TUNA STEAKS WITH JUNIPER-ORANGE MARINADE (4 servings)

Impart a European flavor to tuna with juniper berries, thyme and co tes du rho ne. Fresh tuna is rich and very firm fleshed, similar to a steak.

1/2 cup dry red wine (co tes du rho ne)

10 juniper berries, mashed

1 teaspoon minced orange zest

2 tablespoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 3/4 pOunds center cut tuna steak

Make the marinade one day ahead if possible, to blend flavors. In a pint jar, mix the red wine, juniper berries, orange zest, orange juice, thyme, garlic, black pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Remove skin from tuna steak with a sharp thin knife. The tuna bone forms a cross shape. Carefully bone steak by inserting point of knife at center round bone and follow bone to outside edge. Insert knife at center again and follow bone to other edge, removing a 6-ounce steak. Repeat with remaining sections. There will be 4 individual steaks.

Place the steaks in a non-corrosive pan in a single layer and pour the marinade over them. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours. Do not marinate overnight or tuna will become soggy. Baste several times.

Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. Brush grill with remaining oil to prevent fish from sticking. Grill steaks over medium high heat for about 8 minutes total, turning every 2 minutes. Baste with marinade if desired. Let steaks stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve warm with grilled or baked potatoes and a salad of cucumbers in sour cream with fresh dill. SESAME-GLAZED SOLE STRIPS (4 servings)

Mesquite or hickory chips add a subtle dimension, if desired, to tender soy-glazed sole strips with crunchy toasted sesame seeds.

1/3 cup soy sauce

2/3 cup aji-mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)*

4 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 1/2 pounds skinned sole, turbot or flounder fillet

1 tablespoon corn oil

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Soak 8 to 10 bamboo Skewers in water for 1 hour.

To make the glaze, in a wide-mouthed 9-inch skillet mix the soy sauce, aji-mirin and sugar. Boil uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly until syrupy. Add vinegar and boil 1 minute. There should be just less than 1/2 cup glaze. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature until ready to use.

Cut a very thin center strip from fillet if bony. Cut fish into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide and 5 inches long. If using flounder, pound strips lightly between dampened plastic wrap to flatten slightly. Thread fish onto skewers, allowing two skewers per guest. Spread fish out along skewer for even cooking. Refrigerate until serving time.

Brush grill lightly with oil to prevent fish from sticking. Brush one side of fish with soy glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Grill strips, glazed side down over medium high heat for about 6 minutes, turning every 2 minutes. Brush generously with glaze and add sesame seeds to cover all sides. Let stand in a warm place covered for 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with minced fresh parsley and serve warm with marinated fresh cucumber and tomato slices and an oriental rice salad, studded with snow peas, water chestnuts, scallions and pickled ginger.

The strips may also be served room temperature for lunch with a light mustard sauce.

*Available in oriental and Japanese markets. GRILLED SALMON KEBABS (4 servings)

Savor the delicate flavor of fresh salmon with a chilled herb sauce that has been lightened and given a gentle tang by yogurt.


1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon or rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon


4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon or rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1 3/4 pounds salmon fillet, skinned, boned, cut into 1-inch cubes

16 medium mushrooms, cleaned

1 red pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 small zucchini, sliced 1/8-inch thick

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soak 8 long bamboo skewers or metal skewers in water for 30 minutes.

To make the yogurt sauce, in a small bowl, mix yogurt, sour cream, salt, pepper, white wine vinegar and tarragon. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

To make the basting sauce, mix the olive oil, lemon juice and tarragon. Set aside.

To assemble the skewers, alternate the salmon with the mushrooms, red pepper and zucchini. End with a piece of red pepper.

Brush all sides of the salmon and vegetables generously with the basting sauce. Refrigerate until serving time. Sprinkle kebabs with salt and freshly ground black pepper just before grilling.

Grill salmon for 2 minutes per side over medium high heat, or broil in a 450-degree oven for the same time. Do not overcook. Pass the sauce separately. Serve with a fragrant green and yellow bean salad, and grilled potato slices. LOUISIANA-STYLE TUNA STEAKS (4 servings)

Mayonnaise-based marinades are unusual; Mo Cheramie of Old New Orleans Seafood in McLean was the inspiration for this Louisiana-style tuna.

1 3/4 pounds center-cut tuna steak

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 scallions, green and white part, minced

1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon oregano

Remove skin from tuna steak with a sharp thin knife. The tuna bone forms a cross shape. Carefully bone steak by inserting point of knife at center round bone and follow bone to outside edge. Insert knife at center again and follow bone to other edge, removing a 6-ounce steak. Repeat with remaining sections. There will be 4 individual steaks. The fish stays moist, whether cooked as a steak or cut into chunks for kebabs.

Mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, scallion, worcestershire sauce, rosemary, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, salt, basil and oregano. Adjust quantities of seasonings to develop your own personal blend. Let stand an hour or longer to blend flavors.

Pat tuna steaks dry and place in a noncorrosive Pan in a single layer. Spoon the marinade over the steaks, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Grill steaks over medium high heat for about 8 minutes total, turning every 2 minutes. Let stand covered in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a marinated green bean and roasted pepper salad, and crisp grilled french bread slices. MONKFISH WITH SMOKEY BARBECUE SAUCE (4 servings)

If you ever saw a whole monkfish, you would probably shake your head and admire the courage of the first person who ever ate it. It is ugly. This recipe has liquid smoke, and monkfish also benefits from being grilled over fragrant wood chips.

1 cup chili sauce **

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

3 scallions, green and white part, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno peppers, seeds removed*

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (coriander)

1 1/2 pounds monkfish fillet

1 medium zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 35 slices)

8 mushrooms, cleaned

1 red onion, skinned, quartered, separated (optional)

To make the sauce, mix the chili sauce, vinegar, scallions, jalapeno pepper, chili powder, black pepper, liquid smoke (which is literally vaporized smoke from burning wood, with no added chemicals) and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate overnight to develop flavor. The marinade will be quite strong, since the fish and vegetables will dilute it.

Cut monkfish fillet into cubes about 1 1/2 by 1 inch. It is not necessary to remove the thin outer translucent sheath. Monkfish has a firm texture, similar to a cross between a scallop and lobster, and adapts well to a variety of seasonings. Marinate in a noncorrosive pan for 4 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate, covered.

Two hours before assembling, stir zucchini, mushrooms and red onion into the marinade.

To assemble, alternate fish and vegetables, allowing 2 skewers per person. The skewers may be assembled in the morning and refrigerated, until cooking time. Grill kebabs over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning every two minutes. Do not overcook, or monkfish will toughen. Let stand, covered in a warm place for 5 minutes until serving.

Serve kebabs with crispy golden home fries and a red leaf lettuce salad with chunks of velvety avocado.

**This is regular chili sauce, not oriental chili paste.

*Available in Spanish and/or oriental markets, and some local supermarkets.