DINNER TONIGHT

THAI PORK WITH BASIL

(4 servings)

This fragrant dish is one of the glories of Thai street food. Thai basil is slightly different than our own (it has a minty clove flavor). Either type will work for this recipe. Fish sauce can be found at Asian and gourmet food markets.

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of all fat and sinew

1 bunch fresh basil (2 cups leaves)

4 scallions

3 tablespoons peanut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 to 3 hot red or green chilies, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons fish sauce (or to taste)

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup chicken stock or water

Thinly slice the pork across the grain. Wash, dry and stem the basil. Mince the white part of the scallion. Cut the green part into 1-inch pieces.

Heat the wok over a high flame. Swirl in the oil and heat almost to smoking. Add the garlic, chilies and white part of the scallions and cook for 10 seconds. Add the pork and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, stock and green part of the scallions and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the basil and cook for 20 seconds or until the leaves are wilted and the pork is cooked. The dish is supposed to be a little soupy. Serve at once with rice or noodles.

Per serving: 318 calories, 33 gm protein, 2 gm carbohydrates, 16 gm fat, 4 gm saturated fat, 106 mg cholesterol, 306 mg sodium.

-Steven Raichlen

HAUTE COUTURE FOR COWS? A Tokyo professor says he has developed summer jackets with matching hats to shield cows from the sun, insects and diseases -- and allow them to produce more milk, according to Knight-Ridder newspapers.

While not exactly Comme des Garcons, the outfit consists of three straw pieces that cover the head, back and abdomen, says Mosaku Sakurai of the Tokyo University of Agriculture.

Sakurai says cows lose their appetites and produce less milk when exposed to the summer sun. The backs of black-haired cows can reach 140 degrees if they're outside in the heat for about 20 minutes.

NOT ONLY AGORAPHOBICS like to shop by mail, and a new book on food and cookware products available via the postal service should help anyone trying to avoid the stores. "Cooksource" by Isabelle Tourneau (Doubleday, $15.95), is a guide to shops and mail-order companies that will deliver everything from live Maine lobsters to rose water. There are even a few recipes peppered throughout the book. A few worthwhile stores have been overlooked, but this reference book is a good way to get started.

MELON AND MIXED GREEN SALAD

(4 servings)

Make the most of the melon season by serving this refreshing summer salad as the first course of a light meal on a very hot August evening.

1 head frisse'e lettuce, or escarole or curly endive

1/2 head red leaf lettuce

1 head Boston or bibb lettuce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 honeydew or cantaloupe melon

1/2 red onion, slivered

Rinse the lettuces well, drain and wrap in towels, Refrigerate until you are ready to arrange the salad.

Mix together the lime juice, champagne vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and toasted cumin seed in a bowl and whisk in the olive oil.

Use a melon baller to make about 1 cup of melon balls. Arrange the lettuces on a platter or individual plates, and sprinkle with the onion and melon balls. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Per serving: 331 calories, 4 gm protein, 19 gm carbohydrates, 28 gm fat, 4 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 41 mg sodium.

-Lynn Foster

IT WAS THE CRABBIEST crab truck, according to a panel of judges who awarded B & D Select Seafood of Princess Anne, Md., the grand prize for best crab truck art. The brainchild of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Maryland's first Crabbiest Crab Truck Competition, held August 11 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, drew a fleet of more than two dozen crab trucks from throughout the state. The triumphant truck, which "won hands down," according to a spokeswoman from the governor's office, was judged on the quality of the artwork, originality and execution of design, its "crab personality" and its promotion of Maryland seafood.

Gregory S. Dunn, Sr., owner of B & D Select Seafood for 13 years, said two Eastern Shore artists -- Wally Makuchal and Mike Kulynycz -- hand-painted his six trucks, which deliver crabs, clams and other seafood up and down the Eastern seaboard and to Washington's Maine Avenue seafood market. As for what Dunn intends to do with his $500 award, he said he will return it to the community: he's helping to sponsor his local Lion's Club skipjack race.

TO DO

For those who missed the crab truck competition, the kick-off event of Maryland's 1990 Party on the Bay, a 20-day celebration of the Chesapeake Bay, here are a few more crab-oriented events:

Saturday: Bayfest celebration includes fresh steamed crabs, ethnic foods, crab races, watermelon eating, music, antiques and arts and crafts. North Beach, noon to 6 p.m. Call 301-855-6681.

Sunday: Carroll County Seafood Festival features crabs, watermen crafts and demonstrations, nautical entertainment. Carroll Country Farm Museum, Westminster, from noon to 6 p.m. Admission fee. Call 301-876-2667.

Friday, Aug. 31: Wesley Chapel Fish Fry, Rock Hall, 3 to 7 p.m. Admission fee. Call 301-639-2144.

Friday, Aug. 31 to Sunday, Sept. 2: National Hard Crab Derby features crab picking and cooking contests, crab races, music, food and fireworks. Somers Cove Marina, Crisfield. Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission fee. Call 301-968-2682.