How to Cook Pacific Sand Dab

Cooked sanddabs
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Sand dab—even the name sounds cute. Sand dabs are a small type of flounder, generally weighing in at less than a pound and measuring just 6 to 8 inches long. The fish have a sweet, soft texture that is uncommonly moist and mild. Pacific sand dabs are considered a sustainable choice for seafood and can be sauted, fried, grilled, baked, or boiled.

Sand dabs are almost always sold fresh and whole, so have your fishmonger clean them for you, if possible, and eat them within a day or two of buying or catching them. You can bread and pan-fry the fish or, for a healthier option, broil it with a little butter, salt, and pepper.

Pan-Fried Sand Dabs

Like other flaky white fish, sand dabs fry up beautifully. Serve it with French fries and lemon wedges for a classic fish and chips meal.

  1. Clean 2 pounds of sand dabs.
  2. Crack one egg into a bowl and whisk it with a fork until beaten.
  3. Pour 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs or plain dried breadcrumbs into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Dip the sand dabs into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs, coating the fish thoroughly.
  5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter into large skillet. Place the fish into the skillet and fry on both sides until golden brown.

Broiled Sand Dab

For a hands-off way to cook sand dab, dress it with a little butter and broil the fish in the oven.

  1. Move the oven rack to a position 3 to 4 inches below the broiler. Preheat the oven on broil.
  2. Pat the fish dry and place it on a prepared baking sheet, skin side down. Place slivers of butter, about 1 to 2 teaspoons worth, on each piece of fish. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily.


  • Because sad dabs are so small, they will cook incredibly quickly. Don't walk away from the cooking process, or you risk overcooking the fish.
  • If the fish seems overcooked after being broiled, brush it with a mixture of melted butter and lemon juice to add some moisture back into the filet.
  • For extra flavor on the broiled version, add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to each filet.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of breadcrumbs, coat the fish in crushed cornflakes before pan-frying for extra crunch and fewer calories.
  • Rather than breading the sand dab, dredge it in a light coating of flour. Just coat the fish lightly and add it to the pan, no egg necessary.
  • If you're out of butter, you can pan-fry the breaded fish in an equal amount of vegetable oil. However, the final product might not be quite as rich.