Sand dabs are a fun fish to eat, and unlike such things as lobster or bluefin tuna, aren't meat for deeply serious preparations. They are little flounder that live along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, are fun to catch and are well-loved in California fried simply.
Most are too small to properly fillet, so pan-dressing is the way to go. Do it right and you really only have the backbone to deal with, so even finicky eaters should have not trouble with the little dab.
I tried an old oven-frying method developed in the 1930s this weekend, and the rich breading -- I stuck the breadcrumbs to the fish using some homemade mayonnaise -- perfectly complemented the moist, lean dabs.
Photo copyright 2008 Hank Shaw