Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Fluttering its fins on the catwalk this week is the Dashing Dab. Dab fish is a sustainable flat fish whose beautiful cousins include Plaice and Sole.
It is mostly taken as a bycatch in trawl fisheries and often discarded because of its low market value. Jamie Oliver said "Virtually all Dab caught – around 96% – gets thrown back into the sea, dead."
Dab is in season until the end of March and is super affordable. So catch this dainty fish at your fishmonger or supermarket while you can. Try Duncans Beurre Noisette Dab recipe. Super quick, easy and tasty! Best of all you don't need any ridiculous ingredients.
The Dab is a "fish to eat" on the Marine Conservation Society's list because it is "fished within sustainable levels using methods which do not cause unacceptable damage to the environment or non-target species". It is also a super cheap alternative to sole or plaice so win-win. It is in season from August until March so it is plentiful for most of the year.
Ok, so they are super sustainable and affordable - but how do they taste?
Cook it quickly and on the bone to release it's beautiful succulent and sweet flavour. It can be grilled, poached, baked or fried, and because Dab is so small it is often cooked whole with the head and fins still attached.
Duncan's Fishy Facts
Dab can reproduce within two years when they are only 15 cms long. This early reproduction explains why dab are so numerous in UK waters and stocks are robust.
Dab is more popular in Denmark where they pan fry in it butter
When you google Dab you get a lot of dance moves. Why? It is a dance move of sorts in which you stretch out your arms in a demented sort of warrior pose and tuck your head into the crook of your elbow.
They are full of B12 a nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.
Duncan was inspired by his passion to cook British sustainable fish. He wanted to find out what would happen if he swapped Plaice for Dab and created a quick dinner that people could make from their cupboards at home. Well you may have to pop out to buy the parsley at the same time as the dab. I was very upset not to be his chief tester for this one as I was away. I can confirm it was a huge hit with our Baby Baller and dinner guests. The added bonus is that the recipe is simple enough for me to confidently create this on my own while it is in season.
Duncans Beurre Noisette Dab
What you need to make it
-2 whole dab (ask your fishmonger, skin on and gutted)
- 1 lemon -200 grams of butter
-Hand full of chopped parsley
- Sea Salt and Pepper
How to make it
1. Use a small sharp knife to score (incisions through the skin and flesh) the dab at 2cm intervals.
2. Season your fish. Sprinkle some sea salt and pepper. Scatter chopped parsley and grate the zest of half a lemon over it. Rub the flavour into the fish - making sure you turn it over and don't be shy get into all those nooks and crannies
3. Chuck 15g of butter into a pan and and cook your fish on a medium heat. After 3 minutes they should be golden brown. Flip them over to cook. Each fish will take 6 - 7 minutes to cook 4. Melt the rest of the butter on a medium heat in a new pan - do it slowly so it doesn't burn.
5. After about 30 seconds your butter will start to foam. Keep stirring constantly as the butter continues to melt and the proteins brown. Once it is a golden brown hue pour the butter out of the pan ready to pour over your dab (keep it in a hot container if your fish is still cooking).
Use a stainless steel pan to make the Beurre Noisette (brown butter) so you can see it change colour - which is hard with a dark pan.
If you have too much Beurre Noisette you can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks- perfect on roasted veg
Serve with potatoes and some seasonal green veg like chard or kale
Now put your feet up and enjoy it with a cold glass of white wine or some lemon water. Then rave to all your friends about Plaices affordable cousin.
Like what you see? Join our Facebook Group the Food Collective today and meet like-minded foodies and seasonal produce seekers in our collaborative fun space. It is the perfect space to share, ask for help, pick the brains of others and contribute your amazing ideas and recipes.