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Grilled Whole Scup: Appreciating an Underrated Fish

Scup is one of the most underrated and underutilized fish in our local waters. Typically appearing near Cape Cod in late spring, scup can be caught in pots, fish weirs, or with a hand line or rod and reel.

Although it’s a bony and very scaly fish, its flavor is mild and sweet. Grilling a gutted and scaled whole scup is one of the simplest ways to prepare it. Cooking the whole fish reveals delightful surprises, with the collar and cheek meat being particularly enjoyable.

The crew at Chatham Harvesters are excited to share a recipe to grill whole scup and our friends at Eating with the Ecosystem who promote a place-based approach to sustaining New England’s wild seafood, through flourishing food webs, healthy habitats, and short, adaptive seafood supply chains have shared a video tutorial on how to prepare a whole scup for grilling or baking. [ video link

Grilled Whole Scup


Olive oil, for rubbing

Whole  scup, (each 1 ½ to 2 pounds), gutted, scaled, and patted dry

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lemon, 1/2 thinly sliced into rounds

1 bunch fresh herbs from your garden: thyme, basil tarragon, nettle 


  1. Preheat grill for direct-heat cooking.

  2. Rub a thin film of oil over cavities and skins of fish. Generously season all over (including cavities) with salt and pepper. Divide half of lemon rounds and herb sprigs evenly between cavities.

  3. Place fish in a grill basket; scatter remaining lemon rounds, halved lemons, and thyme around them.

  1. Place basket on grill grate and cook, turning once, until fish are charred in places and just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size. 

  2. Remove from the grill to a platter. Splay fish open with a knife, remove bone  and serve as a shared finger food plate.


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