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The little darling of the citrus family

Clementines, the sub-compact of the orange family, are a citrus fruit you can eat in the most polite company. You can pop several sections into your mouth at once without having to worry about what to do with the seeds. There just aren't any. This sweet, juicy, easy-to-peel, tangerine-sized fruit has found favor with the English and the French for years. Slices of candied clementines are very popular in and around Nice. And in their ``preserves'' form, they're often served as the final touch to a fancy dinner -- with cream, if you please.

This fruit is a recent introduction to the United States, but Morocco now loads about 1.2 million cases onto refrigerator ships for export to the US. The fruit can be found in most well-supplied produce departments from November to March.

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Clementines (pronounced with a long ``i,'' as in ``Oh, my darlin'. . .) are believed to have come from a single hybrid tree discovered near Oran in Algeria by a French priest, P`ere Cl'ement, around the turn of this century.

This cross between a mandarin and bitter orange may be used in any recipe calling for oranges. Being seedless, they are perfect for dipping in chocolate fondue. Sole Tetu'an 1 pound fresh or frozen sole fillets Flour Salt and pepper 1/4 cup butter Juice of 2 clementines 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 clementines, peeled and sectioned 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Lightly coat fish with flour, salt, and pepper. Melt butter in a large frying pan, add fish, and cook over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides -- about 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Remove to warm serving plate. Stir clementine juice into frying pan, scraping up the brown bits. Whisk in cream and boil over high heat, stirring constantly until reduced by one half.

Stir in clementine sections and parsley. Cook briefly to heat through. Pour over fish just before serving. Serves 3 to 4.

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