Dab is from the beautiful flatfish family – it’s flaky, sweet, juicy and delicious and is similar to lemon sole. Virtually all dab caught – around 96% – gets thrown back into the sea, dead. I think that’s an unforgivable waste. If we could all start eating dab now and then, it would really help ease the pressure currently on the big five: cod, haddock, prawns, salmon and tuna. But unfortunately, it’s not easy to get at the moment because it’s all being thrown back, so we need to start asking for it. Let’s create a demand and get it in the shops!
Don’t be nervous about cooking fish on the bone. It makes the flesh juicer and more succulent, and gives it another dimension of flavour you just can’t get with fillets.
Use a small sharp knife to score the dab at 2cm intervals on both sides. Add a splash of olive oil to a large pan on a high heat. Add the bacon and pine nuts and cook for a couple of minutes, or until lightly golden.
Meanwhile, scatter a pinch of salt and pepper over the fish. Sprinkle over a little of the chopped parsley and finely grate over the zest of ½ a lemon. Rub that flavouring into the fish, making sure you get it into all the cuts. Repeat on the other side.
Tip the bacon and pine nuts onto a plate, add another splash of oil to the pan if you need to, followed by the dab, skin-side down. You may need to cook them in 2 batches or use 2 pans. After a couple of minutes, check to see if the fish are turning golden, and once they are, flip them over. Add the tomatoes to the pan with the olives and remaining parsley. Give the pan a good shake, then add the bacon and pine nuts.
Quickly dress your salad leaves with a lug of balsamic, the juice of ½ a lemon, a pinch of salt and pepper and a couple of lugs of extra virgin olive oil. Use your clean fingers to toss it all together.
Cook the fish for about 6 or 7 minutes in total. To tell if it’s cooked, put your fork into the plumpest part of the flesh and if you can easily pull it away from the bone, it’s ready. Squeeze over the juice from your remaining lemon half, give the pan one last quick shake then take off the heat and serve with the salad on the side. You could have it with new potatoes too, if you like.
You can substitute dab for flounder
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