The Captain’s Cookbook

Many captains have a selection of staple recipes in their cookbooks to turn a memorable catch into an unforgettable meal.

Blackened striped bass

Among the many perks of being a charter captain is having a steady supply of fresh fish. Between that and clients regularly asking for recipe recommendations, many captains have a selection of staple recipes to turn a memorable catch into an unforgettable meal. We surveyed a few captains from throughout the Northeast for their favorite “cookbook” recipes. (Pictured in title: Captain Bobby Rice’s Blackened striped bass searing on a hot grill.)

Captain Bobby Rice

Reel Deal Fishing Charters

Blackened Striped Bass

  1. Prepre a hot grill
  2. Fillet and skin fish, removing red center vein while cleaning
  3. Slice fillets into medium-sized pieces, being sure to remove any bones that might have been missed while filleting
  4. Brush fillets with olive oil
  5. Lightly cover fillets with Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Steak Magic
  6. Sear prepared fillets on a hot grill
  7. Simple, yet fantastic!

Striped Bass Gardén

  • One striped bass
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Thinly-sliced green cabbage
  • Sliced sweet onions
  • Sliced tomato
  • Fresh basil
  1. Fillet and skin fish, removing red center vein while cleaning
  2. Slice fillets into medium-sized pieces being sure to remove any bones that might have been missed while fileting
  3. In large oven-safe pan, sauté fish in olive oil with minced garlic (or freshly sliced garlic cloves) and thinly sliced sweet onions until caramelized. The more onions the merrier!
  4. Meanwhile, in separate pan, sauté thin-sliced green cabbage in olive oil until just past al dente. Cover and set aside on low heat.
  5. Remove striped bass from heat, fully cover in sliced tomatoes and fresh basil (sweet basil flakes are fine too).
  6. Finish off in oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Serve over cabbage.

Captain Rich Antonino

Black Rose Fishing Charters

Fried haddock

Fried Haddock

I love having a fish fry! To me, it is the perfect end to a fishing day. Salads, veggies, side dishes—I don’t bother.  I just get the fryer going and serve it to family and friends the second it comes out.

A good fish fry is all about prepping everything ahead of time, so the “cooking” period amounts to nothing more than putting fish into the oil, waiting 6 minutes, and serving hot, fried fish.

  • Fresh haddock filets
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Baking powder
  • Can of your favorite beer
  • Optional: banana pepper rings
  • Oil for frying

Prep:  Know your crowd and have enough fish for everyone, plus three people.  (Leftovers are okay. You probably don’t fry every day, so a fried fish sandwich the next day will be awesome.)  Make sure that the fish comes to room temperature and is nice and dry before you fry them.  I cut the fillets up into similar-sized pieces and double-check for bones; make them look nice by cutting off any scraps.  Figure on having the fish prepping for 20 minutes…meanwhile, the batter also needs around 20 minutes to make and prep, so do both at the same time.

I use a wet batter, a beer batter, in two parts—a dry part and a wet part.

  • Dry part
    1. Flour, salt and pepper to taste.
    2. Mix and coat all fillets in it.  The flour coating is simply to dry the fish’s exterior while the fish comes to room temp on a cookie rack, so do this first.
  • Mix the wet mix:
    1. I use about 1.5 cups flour mixed with salt and pepper to taste and about 4 TBSP baking powder.
    2. Mix well and add beer—this much flour will take about a can of beer.  It should have the consistency of thinnish pancake mix.
    3. Wait about 15 minutes, and it will thicken and puff up.
    4. Beat it back down and perhaps add a little more beer to get it back to the original consistency.
    5. Coat the fish and let them drip off on the rack a bit, maybe a minute or two.
  • Fry it up:
    1. Heat oil should to 375 degrees. Use enough so you can put a good amount of fish in the oil at once.
    2. Fry fillets for 6 minutes and that’s it (I set a timer).
      • Important Note: Make sure that you let the temp rise back to 375 between batches.

If you want to try something interesting, fry some pickled banana pepper rings.  Coat them in the dry mix and fry them for only about 30 seconds.  Be careful about putting too many in the oil at once because the water in the pepper will cause the pan to boil over if you put too many in at once.  These are a great appetizer to keep in the cookbook.

Captain Brian Coombs

Get Tight Sportfishing

Tautog puttanesca

Pan-Roasted Tautog Puttanesca

  • One 4-6 lb. tautog or black sea bass
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup salted capers
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 3 – 14oz cans of Italian cherry tomatoes (I use MUTTI brand)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. linguine pasta (I use an artisanal dry pasta because it stays al dente and holds on to sauce better)
  1. Gut and clean the fish. (Tog doesn’t need to be scaled, but sea bass does.) Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Heat a sauté pan on the stove, then add olive oil, diced garlic, capers and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute and then add the olives.
  3. Sauté for 1 more minute and add the 3 cans of tomatoes. Simmer for 3 minutes and take off flame. Lightly coat a full-size roasting pan with the sauce. Lay the fish whole into the pan and cover with the remaining sauce. Wrap the pan in aluminum foil and bake in the oven. A 4- to 6-pound fish should take about 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place your pasta water on the oven and bring to a boil. After the water boils, add salt, and not just a pinch—the water should be salty like seawater! Boil the pasta until al dente, then drain.
  5. After 40 minutes, remove the foil and place the fish back in oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven to a counter top.
  6. Use two spatulas and gently move the whole fish from the pan to a serving platter. Take the pasta and place it into the roasting pan, then swirl it around in the sauce inside the roasting pan.
  7. Plate the pasta around the fish on the serving platter, then cover the fish and pasta with the remaining puttanesca sauce and serve. I like to use a fork and knife to gently pull back the skin to expose the beautiful white meat!

Captain Dom Petrarca

Coastal Charters Sportfishing

Grilled tuna collar

Grilled Tuna Collar

Here is the marinade recipe for a 60-inch-class fish, so adjust up or down according to the size of your fish:

  • 5 cups tamari (organic soy sauce – I use San-J brand)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • one cup orange juice
  • 1-1/2 cups minced fresh garlic
  • black pepper
  1. Remove the fins of the collar and any viscera/loose connective tissue, place the fish face-down into the marinade, and leave it for 45 minutes.
  2. Get the grill as hot as possible (I like 500-600 degrees) and use wood or charcoal as opposed to a gas grill.
  3. Once up to temp, place collars skin-side down onto grill and reserve marinade.
  4. Roast for 18-20 minutes, then baste the top of collar with marinade, covering all exposed meat. (The meat should be golden brown at this point.)
  5. Roast 1-3 more minutes, and hit it with the marinade one more time right before taking off the grill.

Serve family style with chopsticks and a nice wakame seaweed or cold soba noodle salad.

This article was originally published online in January 2020.

6 on “The Captain’s Cookbook

  1. LOU


  2. John

    The first three recipes look FANTASTIC esp. the Tautog Puttanesca, but the tuna “collar” not so much.

    I am definitely gonig to try the Puttanesca.

    Lou…… Try soaking the clams a little so they “relax” and Do Not use so sharp a knife!!!

    On ice these things tighten up like, well, a Clams a..!

  3. John

    The first three recipes look FANTASTIC esp. the Tautog Puttanesca, but the tuna “collar” not so much.

    I am definitely gonig to try the Puttanesca.

    Lou…… Try soaking the clams a little so they “relax” and Do Not use so sharp a knife!!!

    On ice these things tighten up like, well, a Clams a..!

    1. Jimmy Fee

      I can tell you from experience, the tuna collars are excellent. The presentation may be lacking, but the flavor is top notch! And, it’s a great way to make a meal out of a piece of fish that’s usually discarded, and that’s always a good thing.

  4. Matt W

    Jimmy, is there a place in the Mashpee/ Falmouth area to buy tuna colars, in case my skiff is not fit to reach the tuna waters, never mind my chaffed 20lb braid. Thanks.

  5. Ralph Fraumeni

    Freeze them for 15 minutes. That relaxes their abductors.

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