By Felicia Scocozza
Many veteran bottom fishing fans consider blackfish to be the ultimate inshore wreck warrior. Wary, pugnacious and sometimes surprisingly large, they can be quite difficult to separate from the rough and tumble bottom they call home. It’s the combination of these qualities, plus their tasty and versatile fillets, that make this species the center of so many fall trips.
Known as “tautog” or simply “‘tog” in New England, true lunkers weighing 8 pounds or more are also called “bull dogs” or “white chins.” As a rule, smaller, 3- to 6-pounders taste better than double-digit trophies so you might want to toss the biggest ones back. In any case, I’m sure you’ll find it amazing that such a tough competitor can be so sweet and tender on the plate.
Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 30-60 minutes’ marinade time
Cooking Time: 20 minutes or until golden brown on top
Serves: 3 to 4
- 1 pound blackfish fillets cut into 3” pieces
- 1- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
- ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
Ingredients: Yogurt Marinade
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 ½ tbsp. ground cumin
- Combine marinade ingredients. Place fish in a glass baking dish and combine with marinade. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
- After 30-60 minutes, remove fish from refrigerator. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to a cast iron or oven-proof skillet and heat on medium high. Place the fish in the hot pan. (Note: don’t crowd the pan. You can do a second batch if necessary.)
- Cook the fish for one minute and flip. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish, or until fish and yogurt sauce turn a light golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining fish if necessary.
- Squeeze lemon juice over blackfish fillets, sprinkle with dill, and top with olives as desired.
- Serve with tomato-cucumber-feta salad and Tzatziki sauce.
Alternative Serving Suggestion or Bonus Meal for Leftovers:
Serve in a pita or flatbread topped with Tzatziki sauce and tomato-cucumber-feta salad.
Note: Unlike baking, cooking is not an exact science. Readers are encouraged to adjust and modify these recipes to their own tastes.