Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun with sand dabs (or, a little dab’ll do ya)

I’m not posting a recipe today, just a report on our exposure to a new variety of fish, the sand dab. The pictures make them look larger than they are. When trimmed of spines, head and tail, they weigh in at 5-7 oz. The skin is thin and dissolved off them when sautéed.
I need to mention that the sand dab is a flounder-like fish, flat, dark on one side and white on the other. Like flounder they swim on their sides. The white side is down, making it difficult to see them from underneath. The brown side is the top, making them difficult to see from above.

Bruce, my fish monger, gave me two of them to try a couple days ago. I sautéed them in butter and olive oil and pulled the meat off the central skeleton. Unfortunately there are some pin bones in what I’ll call the shoulder. When the dabs are cooked, they aren’t much more annoying than eating the bones in a canned sardine. I let the meat cool and turned it into a fish salad, much like the one I’ve posted about in the past. It was delicious.

When I went back to Bruce’s store the next day he had a fresh batch available. I bought 4, made a shrimp stock using shells I had in the freezer and chicken stock, poached the dabs and removed the meat from the bones. I got the peculiar inspiration to make a one-dish meal with wheat berries (simmered for 2 hours in broth), sautéed artichoke hearts (from frozen, perfectly viable), and some seasonings and lemon juice. It was swell.

Today we cobbled together lunch with the leftovers, serving it up on toast with some crispy bacon and a poached egg.

End of lecture. Just bear in mind that this is another example of how to use disparate ingredients that have been languishing in the larder or the freezer.

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