A Little Dab Will Do Ya

Fried Sand Dabs
While most people were out shopping the day after Thanksgiving, I was home cleaning out my freezer. I'm not sure how I manage to fill it with so many random items, but once I get around to sorting through it, I always find the makings of some really delicious eats.

Lucky for us, we had a stash of fresh-off-the-boat seafood that we'd been given and we were just waiting for the perfect opportunity to cook it all up.

On Friday, still full from the previous day's turkey, Mr. B's cousin Johnny rolled into town in time for the first football game. By the time he left on Monday morning, his eyes were glassed over--apparently one of the symptoms of a serious food coma. To say that I cooked up a storm for those two is putting it mildly, although, Mr. B was churning out some delicious eats of his own, including homemade smoked sausages, gumbo, and a meal of gloriously fried sand dabs piled high onto a platter and set down in the middle of the table where they radiated rays of golden deliciousness.

I think it's safe to say that most people wouldn't know what to do with a pile of sand dabs and that's a shame. They're a common menu item at many a San Francisco eatery, but I've rarely seen them offered outside of the city. The truth is, however, that they are fairly prolific in the waters of the Pacific and make for a fine meal.

They're troublesome to cook and since they're only gutted and head dressed, eating them requires a bit of finesse as you must delicately lift the filets of meat from the bone. The reward is a sweet delicate white fish that melts in your mouth--oh, and I particularly like stacking up a pile of fish skeletons on the edge of my plate.

If you come across a puzzled fisherman with a bag of sand dabs, do your best to convince him to hand them over to you. Then head home and heat the pan for some good eats.

Mr. B's Fried Sand Dabs
2-3 pounds of sand dabs, gutted and head dressed
vegetable oil

1. Pour flour into a paper bag and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat vegetable oil in a wide, deep high-sided pan and bring the oil up to frying temperature.
3. In small batches, toss sand dabs into the bag and shake until they're completely dredged in the seasoned flour; shake off excess flour.
4. Fry the sand dabs in the hot oil until golden and crispy; keep warm in a hot oven until all the sand dabs are fried.
5. Serve with lemon wedges and rémoulade sauce.


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