Sanddabs are a great tasting fish, so plentiful, right off the California Coast, inexpensive and somehow totally undervalued. Why? The BONES! When, actually, after cooking them the meat comes off the skeleton quite easily. They are a cute little flatfish that costs a third of the price as halibut. I also included a great shrimp dish. Clyde at Dry Dock had both these little treats last Sunday at the Malibu Farmers’ Market. The nut crust I used to cook the sanddabs in is also wonderful on halibut and orange roughy. Just adjust the cooking time for the thicker fish. Enjoy the fruits of the sea!
Serves 6 as a main dish or 18 small appetizers, a very pretty and tasty dish.
18 Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on or off, marinated for 6 hours or so.
1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, boiled, strained and mashed with a little milk and butter, seasoned with Salt and Pepper. Can be made ahead of time and reheated in small sauce pan before serving.
For Marinade in a bowl combine:
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine or sake
1 lime, squeezed and added to the marinade, do not discard lime halves, just add to the bowl
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the peeled and deveined Shrimp and let sit in refrigerator for several hours
For Orange Vanilla Sauce:
1 Shallot, peeled and chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-6 sprigs of fresh herbs, such as Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Basil
Juice of 2- 3 oranges, about ½ cup (remove zest from one first for garnish)
½ cup white wine
½ cup vege or chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract Chopped green onion and orange zest as garnish
In medium sauce pan heat the olive oil and cook the chopped shallot and herb sprigs over medium heat for 1 minute.
Add the orange juice, wine and broth and lower heat to medium low and reduce to just about ½ cup, about 10-15 minutes. Strain out the chopped shallot and herbs, return to medium heat and add cream. Continue to reduce until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside.
Remove the shrimp from the marinade and grill on hot stove top grill, turning once until shrimp are done but not overcooked, approx. 4-5 minutes. (can be done on outside BBQ, of course)
To plate as an appetizer, use 18 shot glasses or votive candle holders or a very small ramekin. Add 2 tablespoons warmed mashed potatoes first to the glass, top with one fresh cooked shrimp and drizzle the orange vanilla sauce on top. Or you can plate on 6 salad size plates with a scoop of mashed potato, 3 grilled shrimp on top, garnished with green onion and orange zest. Garnish with chopped green onion and orange zest and serve with a spoon.
Serves 6: These little guys are a delicious fish but get a bad name from the bones. The flesh is very easily removed from the skeleton once the fish is cooked. It is worth the few seconds to perform this simple task to enjoy one of the most plentiful and inexpensive flatfishes of the Pacific.
6 sanddabs (skinned, with bones in, which is the way they are sold) rinsed and patted dry
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
For the crust:
¼ cup macadamia nuts, roasted and salted, ground to a rough meal (not too much as to render to a paste)
½ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
4-6 kalamata olives, pitted
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Place above ingredients in a food processor and process for a few seconds to incorporate the olives and set aside on a large plate.
For tomato concasse:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium heirloom tomatoes cut in ¾ inch chunks
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped in ½ inch dice
½ cup white wine
4 basil leaves, rolled and cut in small slices (chiffonade)
Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until onion is soft.
Add the tomatoes and cook for one minute or so just until it starts to soften.
Add the wine and basil and cook for just another minute or two. Remove pan from heat. Reheat when ready to serve.
For Parsley Oil: (This is optional but makes for a beautiful color presentation) take one nice sized bunch of parsley and twist off the lower larger stems. Plunge into a small sauce pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Strain and then plunge parsley into a water/ice bath to retain the color about 30 seconds. Remove from ice bath and place on a small clean towel. Roll up the towel and squeeze out any excess water. Put the parsley in a blender with ¾ cup of olive oil and blend for a least two whole minutes until the parsley and the oil are completely combined. Pour into a small bowl and reserve.
Take the sanddabs and place one at a time on the mac nut mixture, dredging and turning so the mix sticks to the fish. Handle carefully so as to keep the crust on the fish. Place on separate plate. Continue with the rest of the sanddabs.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and carefully place the fish in the pan, all at once and sauté for approx. 2-3 minutes until nice and golden brown. Turn and continue to cook the other side until golden brown, as well. You may need to add a little more olive oil.
To plate: divide the warmed tomato concasse on 6 plates, place the fish on top and drizzle with Parsley Oil