Catch And Cook: Whole Grilled Tautog

There's something primal and satisfying about cooking a whole tautog.

Tautog sketch
Some striper fishermen are beginning to call it a season and hanging up the gear for the winter. For others, November is just the gateway to the next season.New England’s autumn months may be cooler but for those that are willing to layer up and venture out onto the water, “toggin’” can be a welcomed alternative to hibernating until the spring.November is an ideal time for landing a blackfish and the bend one of these stout fish puts on a rod will get the adrenaline going. Landing a blackfish is not only an exciting challenge, it provides some excellent table fare for those lucky enough to be able to pull one up from the rocky bottom that they tend to call home.

The following is a recipe from Cooking The Catch, written by the late Dave “Pops” Masch. The ingredients subtly combine to highlight the delicate flavor of tautog and regardless of time of year, there’s something primal and satisfying about cooking your catch whole.

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Baked Or Grilled Whole Tautog With Lemon

1 whole black sea bass or tautog weighing 4 to 5 lbs.
Salt and pepper
5 bay leaves
1/2 lemon plus juice of two lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed

Preheat oven to 370 degrees. Score the fish 10 times on each side, salt and pepper generously on both sides, and brush both sides with olive oil. Put lemon slices and bay leaves in alternate slits on top side of fish. Place crushed garlic on top of fish between the lemon and bay leaf slits. Drizzle with lemon juice.

If you are using an oven, place fish on baking dish and put crushed garlic close around it. Put in oven, and baste after 15 minutes, cook 15 minutes more and check for doneness. It will be opaque at the backbone when done. Remove fish from oven, and serve on a platter covered with lettuce leaves, or surround with curly parsley. Garnish with quartered lemons.

If you are using a grill to cook your tautog, put charcoal on one side, and after preheating covered grill, put fish on grill on side not directly over the coals, and cook covered, basting every 15 minutes.

The fish should be done and delicious after about 45 minutes. You may not believe how good this dish is – do it. What is there to lose?

Other Great On the Water Recipes

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Toggin’ Tips

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