UPDATED ON April 8 2024

How to Make Parmesan Crusted Tautog with Herb-Lemon Sauce

by Lauren Collins

Tautog is one of our favorite fish to both catch and cook on Cape Cod.  With it's hearty white meat, it holds up well to almost any way of cooking.

And now that April has arrived it's only a matter of time until the dandelions bloom and tautog return to inshore waters surrounding the Cape!

In this recipe, I made a simple breading of parmesan cheese and spicy smoked paprika, with a quick lemon and herb sauce to drizzle all over.

It sets up well to pair with spicy smoked paprika and nutty parmesan cheese.  The light herbed lemon sauce gives the fish more depth with it's rich flavors of herbs such as mint, basil, parsley and more.

If you've never heard of tautog, otherwise known as black fish, it's a flakey white fish with a very mild flavor. 

Making the Herb-Lemon Sauce

The herb lemon sauce is very simple, and is a great way to add fresh flavors to your dish.  

I try to keep fresh herbs on hand either in my garden or when I stop at the store, whether to use them for pestos, salad dressings or sauces.

For this sauce, I chose to use flat leaf parsley, basil, rosemary, chives and a small amount of mint.  

I started by melting a tablespoon of butter, and then adding in some really good olive oil (Terra Delyssa is THE BEST).  

Next I added in a few cloves of minced garlic.  Once that came to a low simmer and started to become fragrant, I turned the heat off and added in fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  

Then I stirred in the fresh herbs and let them all marinate in the sauce while the fish cooked.

Another option (if you'd prefer not to buy so many herbs) is to make a lemon caper sauce, which uses capers and their juice in place of all the herbs.  It will be more tangy in flavor from the brininess of the capers, and is a delicious option.

Cooking the Tautog

As you can see, tautog is just a simple white fish.  What's so special about it is we can easily catch our own local tautog throughout the year - it's as fresh as can be!

I chose to use smoked paprika to help give the fish an extra kick of flavor, while still pairing nicely with the lemon herb sauce without overpowering anything.

It took only 8 minutes for it to cook, from start to finish - how easy is that?! You can read the step-by-step detailed recipe and instructions by scrolling below

The Recipe

Parmesan Crusted Tautog


  • 1lb tautog filets
  • smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • shredded parmesan cheese


  1. 1
    Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper.
  2. 2
    Arrange filets on the baking sheet and sprinkle each filet on both sides evenly with smoked paprika, salt, pepper and shredded parmesan cheese.  Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until cooked through.

Herb Lemon Sauce


  • 1 TBS unsalted butter
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TBS minced basil, chives, flat leaf parsley, rosemary and mint


  1. 1
    In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat then add in olive oil and garlic.  Bring to a low sizzle for 2 minutes, then turn the heat off and stir in lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste and herbs.
  2. 2
    Let the herbs marinate in the sauce for at least 10 minutes, and then strain the herbs out (optional) before drizzling over the fish.  You can use this sauce to drizzle over the rice too!

Side Dishes

If you choose to make the Lemon Caper Sauce, simply omit the herbs from the above recipe and instead use 2 TBS capers with their juice. Follow the directions above, except instead stir the capers and their juice into the sauce while the heat is still on before you add the lemon juice.

Another commonly searched for topic is what to serve as a side dish. One of my favorites for tautog is twice cooked rice with spring vegetables and machengo (shown below ?).

It's a great paring to the tautog and you can access the recipe here

Fortunately I enjoy experimenting with creative side dishes, and I'm happy to share a few more with you if you are interested. Here is another link to a post which contains some of my other favorite side dishes for fish.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please let me know if you have any questions, and if you end up cooking this recipe, then please let me know how it turned out.

Happy cooking!

About the author 

Lauren Collins

Through the eyes of a fishermans' wife, I'm excited to share my cooking and photography with you here on MFCC. You can learn more about cooking, and get more recipes by visiting my website Creatively Delish.

  • My husband caught the tautog in the Delaware Bay this April. Since we never have prepared this fish before, I followed your instructions exactly. I also used the twice cooked rice side dish and served leftover brown rice with sauted spring asparagus and mild onion. The fish was exceptional, so moist and just enough flavor. It is a keeper!

  • Caught Taug yesterday, used your recipe to prepare it along with your twice cooked rice with manchego a spring veggies . Th lemon butter with herb sauce was excellent.Keeper!

  • Cooking this tonight. I had never heard of this fish but it looked beautiful at Eataly here in LA. I wonder how much it sells for closer to the source? We paid $26.00 per pound ; ).

    • Wow $26/pound! That reminds me of when we were in Florida and they sold lobster for $60/pound! It’s probably around $15/pound here, but I’m really not sure because I’ve never seen it in the markets. We just eat it when Ryan catches it. That guess comes from what the fishermen here get per pound and then the estimated upsell on it, but I could be totally wrong. I really hope you enjoyed the recipe though! Please let me know and thanks for trying it!

  • Hi Lauren,

    Made your fish and the rice and both were incredible.
    When I cut up the herbs, I believe I used too much making the sauce too thick. I diluted with more olive oil, lemon juice and butter…..so my question is…would 1 tablespoon of each spice chopped up be th appropriate amount? Thanks!!! Jill

    • Hey Jill, I’m so glad you loved the recipes! And yes I would go with that measurement for each. If you’re using fresh herbs, it might be easier to measure by sprig (the leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary, 6-8 basil leaves, 2 sprigs of mint, 8 chives and 3 sprigs parsley). I just updated the recipe though for 1 TBS of each to make it easier – I never usually measure herbs for recipes, just eyeball it, but I know the measurements would certainly be helpful!

  • Hi Lauren, I just made this and it came out great! Served with roasted Brussel sprouts. A great meal! The tog was caught off the coast of Newport, RI.

  • Lauren. This recipe looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it. Haven’t chased any “Tog” yet, but I have plenty of striper meat. Thanks much!

    • Thanks Brian! The recipe will definitely go well with striper too, but if you’re looking for more inspiration on how to cook it up there are a few other recipes in the Free Seafood EBook you might like!

  • Sounds good, can’t wait to try it, up here in Maine we don’t have tog but we do have their close relative the bergall, I just haven’t been able to catch one yet

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