Fried Sand Dabs with Bacon and Thyme

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Everything on the Table

Everything on the Table

By Colman Andrews

Published 1992

  • About

This idea is based very loosely on a dish of sweetbreads in a cream sauce flavored with pearl onions, bacon, and fresh thyme that Jonathan Waxman used to serve at his late, lamented Jams in New York City.


  • ½ pound thinly sliced bacon
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Leaves from 8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 2½ to 3 pounds sand dab fillets (3 to 4 per person) or small, whole lemon or gray sole
  • 1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons very cold salted butter, sliced into as many slices as there are sand dabs
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped


Fry bacon over medium-low heat until brown and crisp in 1 very large or 2 smaller skillets. Drain on paper towels, reserving rendered fat in pan.

Mix paprika, thyme, salt, and plenty of pepper into cornmeal. Dip sand dabs in half-and-half or milk, then dredge thoroughly in cornmeal. Fry in batches in bacon fat over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

Divide sand dabs evenly between 6 warm plates, place 1 slice butter in the center of each fillet, crumble bacon evenly over fish, and scatter with scallions.