Friday, October 19, 2012

Pan fried sand dabs

Siren SeaSA pickup day, today we're cooking sand dabs. Sand dabs are a bottom flat fish somewhat like a small flounder that subsist on crustaceans and shrimp which give them a rather sweet flavor. They also tend to be rather small so a serving will using consist of at least a couple of them cleaned.

The first thing I thought of when presented with sand dabs was breading, butter, and sautéing or pan-frying them so that's what I did.

Sand dans cleaned

Panko bread crumbs

Sand dab dipped into the egg

Dipping the fish into the Panko to coat

Frying the fish

Fish after it's been fried

1-2 pounds sand dabs, cleaned
1 egg
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon quartered into wedges
kosher salt
fresh-cracked black pepper

Clean the sand dabs under running cold water, pat with paper towels to dry. Break the egg into a mixing bowl and beat with a fork. Pour out the panko onto a large plate or casserole dish, add salt and pepper for seasoning. Dip each sand dab into the egg to coat thoroughly then move it onto the plate with the panko to coat then set aside in a pile on another plate. Do each of the others likewise.

Heat a large skillet over a medium flame, adding the oil and butter when hot. Add as many of the sand dabs into the skillet as will fit without crowding. I used a 14-inch iron skillet for about 1 1/4 pounds of fish which required two separate batches. For each fish, fry one side until dark and fairly crisp then turn to do the same with the other side, making sure to not over cook them. As each is done put it aside on a serving plate while you continue with the remainder. In my case, it wound up taking about 4-5 minutes a side per fish to cook. The trick to knowing when a fish is cooked is that it's lost its translucence and flakes easily.

Serve at the table with the lemon wedges.

Note that if you've never eaten a sand dab, its skeleton runs down the center of the fillet. You can easily pull the meat off of the bone by using a fork to slip it off sideways. The bones are pretty thick so make sure you get them all out while you dine. 

We served this with brown rice and roasted cauliflower. Squeezing fresh lemon over the just-cooked fish really brings out its flavor. You can also use a tartar sauce to dress it but would have been gilding the lily as the fish was so damned tasty that the sauce would have hidden the flavor. We're holding off on the sauce until we have the leftover fish in sandwiches.

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