While dining at my new favorite place in San Francisco (Pizzeria Delfina) a friend declared that we should order the fried sanddabs. We did, and sanddabs are now officially added to a list of favorites swimming around in my head.
Sanddabs are an edible flatfish with both eyes on the same side. This seems pretty convenient if you reside at the bottom of the ocean (just think, you’d always be looking up with both eyes…at the same time!) They are a popular game fish in California with the Pacific Sanddab regarded a delicacy because of it’s sweet flavor and tender texture. Either sauced or served alongside simple lemon wedges, fried sanddabs make a tasty, crunchy starter.
I loved the sanddabs so much I bought some at the store – seemed easy enough to make this dish. But after unwrapping my fish at home I realized there is a huge bank of bones running down the center (don’t forget, this is a small, flat fish.) After contemplating how to separate meat from bones, I finally took to slicing off chunks and then dropping into a cornmeal batter before frying.
It wasn’t until reading online later I realized there is a better way to go about the de-boning process. It involves grabbing the bones and pulling out in one swift movement. The other option, of course, is to order at a restaurant but get two plates: one for the table, and one for yourself!
Note: sanddabs are considered a “good alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Pan Fried Sanddabs
Recipe courtesy of the Monterey Fish Market
1 egg beaten
1 pound pan-dressed Sand Dabs
1/2cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
¼ cup oil or clarified butter
Beat the milk and egg together in a bowl. Dredge each fish in the flour, then dip them into the egg-milk mixture then roll in thebreadcrumbs until thoroughly coated. Heat the oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook over a lively but not smoking hot fire for three to four minutes on a side until nicely golden brown on both sides.
Serve immediately, accompanied with lemon wedges.