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Red Drum

Red Drum is a game fish which is native to the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean. It is related to the black drum fish and is often found in its close vicinity. The young fishes from these breeds are indistinguishable in their flavor and appearance. This fish is known by names such as redfish, channel bass, spotless bass, and reds.

Culinary History
The first mention of channel bass as a food item comes in reference with a cook book which was published in New Orleans in 1901. The cookbook stated that the red drum paired well with court –bouillon and this combination can be used for making various dishes. The fish was popularized by superchef Paul Prudhomme in 1980’s. Paul prepared blackened redfish in Cajun style. The population of this fish depleted in 1980’s and the reason was attributed to its wide usage in various dishes. The reality was its over-fishing in 1970’s by recreational fisherman.

The fish again made its popular entry into main time television on March 1, 2009, during the Iron Chef America, where the contestants Cat Cora and Mourad Lahlou were provided redfish and were asked to prepare various dishes using it.

Flavor and Texture Profile
Channel bass is a very mild flavored fish and has finer texture and flakier flesh than black drum. Big redfishes are not easy to clean and its large scale is removed using electric knife. Larger fishes weighing more than 15 pounds have a texture and consistency of a chicken meat rather than a soft and flakey texture of the fish.

Methods of Preparation
Redfish can be prepared in the following ways –

  • Baking – The red drum fillets are arranged on a baking tray after brushing with butter or oil and then seasoned with salt and pepper prior to baking.
  • Frying – The fillets are dipped in the batter and fried in the wok or deep fryer until they turn crispy.
  • Poaching – The fish fillets are added to a broth consisting of water, herbs and spices and cooked until they turn flakey.
  • Broiling – The fish is marinated and dredged in some flour mixture prior and place on the broiler pan for cooking.
  • Grilling – The fish fillets are placed on a greased grill and basted with spicy marinade or oil, butter while cooking. The fish is cooked until it becomes moist and opaque on both the sides.
  • Sautéing- The fish is filleted into small pieces and sautéed in the frying pan along with spicy ingredients.

Redfish Recipes
Following are some of the recipes involving red drum –

  • Cajun Blackened Redfish – This is a very special fish preparation where the fish fillets are dipped in a flavored butter and covered with a spice mixture and baked in an oven.

  • Baked Redfish – The fish is topped with a spicy mixture and baked in an oven until it becomes flakey. The baked fish is served as a side dish along with rice.

Red drum was accorded the status of National Fish of North Carolina in 1971.