Oven-Fried Sand Dab with Summer Salad

fried sand dabs with quinoa salad
Charles C. Place / Getty Images
    47 mins
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Sanddabs, also spelled "sand dab," are a regional delicacy on America's Pacific Coast. They are little flounders that most cooks fry simply in oil. This recipe uses the old Spencer Method of oven-frying, which uses a bit less fat. But it is no less flavorful because I slather homemade mayonnaise on the fish before rolling them in breadcrumbs. I serve this with a chunky, summery salad of tomatoes, avocado, sweet corn and sweet onions.

What You'll Need

  • 8-12 pan-dressed sand dabs
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 ear sweet corn
  • 1/2 Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes

How to Make It

  1. Make the mayonnaise. OK, you don't have to make the mayo -- you can use store-bought, so long as it is of good quality. But mayonnaise is easy to make and homemade tastes so much better that I will give you the instructions here.
  2. In a bowl, add the egg yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, teaspoon of water and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and mix well with a wire whisk.
  3. Slowly add in the 3/4 cup of olive oil while whisking furiously. You must whisk very fast and add the oil very slow: Once you have any given amount of oil incorporated, you can rest a bit, then continue adding the remainder.
  1. Your mayo will be yellow and softer than the white store-bought version. It will also be more perishable, so put it in the fridge for now.
  2. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.
  3. Make the salad. Cut the tomatoes into large chunks, then do the same with the avocado, and put them into a bowl. Cover with the lemon juice.
  4. Add the finely chopped sweet onion and the parsley, then add the sweet corn. Use a stout knife to cut the kernels from the cob of corn; sometimes it helps to cut the cob in half first.
  5. Mix everything together gently -- don't mash the avocado -- and add olive oil, salt, and black pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.
  6. Take out the fish and the mayo and fill a shallow, wide bowl with the breadcrumbs.
  7. Brush (or otherwise apply -- sometimes I just use my clean hands) mayo thickly onto the sand dabs, then, holding them by the tail, plunk one at a time into the bowl of breadcrumbs.
  8. Pick the fish up by the tail again and flip the other side onto the breadcrumbs. Make sure they are good and covered.
  9. Gently lay the fish with the dark skin facing up on a heatproof pan, cookie sheet, oiled foil or whatever you intend to cook them in. I use a baker's Silpat silicone sheet over a cookie tray.
  10. Cook in the oven for 6-12 minutes -- you are looking for golden brown. Do not flip.
  11. To serve, take the fish out, let them rest a minute or two, then arrange one or two on a plate with the golden brown side up. The breading will not be crispy, but it will be savory and is intended to complement the lean and moist sand dabs.
  12. A rich white wine like a Roussanne or a buttery Chardonnay is good with this, but so is a lager or pilsner beer.