Redfish, puppy drum, red drum and channel bass are several names that refer to the same species of fish, Sciaenops ocellatus. Around Oriental you’re most likely to hear this species called Red Drum.
In the late fall anglers from across the globe visit our local waters to catch the giant version of this fish, which can exceed 50″ in length. In this context you’ll hear these beauties called trophy drum, old drum, or the obvious giant red drum.
The red drum is an easy one to spot, just look for the signature black eyespot near the tail. Much like the name sake to our Croaker Festival the red drum will make a drumming or croaking sound when distressed.
Our version of blackened redfish is a variation on the dish made popular in the 1980s by famous Chef Paul Prudhomme. In fact it became so popular that the redfish was harvested nearly to the point of extinction!
The ingredients we’ll be using to prepare our grilled and blackened Redfish meal.
Locally caught Redfish
Locally grown beets and kale.
Conventional pineapple, garlic, mango and parsley sourced locally.
Homemade mix of blackening spices.
Cooked on charcoal grill.
Designed to feed 4 adults.
All ingredients sourced from local vendors.
Ingredients You’ll Need
1 whole fruit
1 whole fruit
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
2 tsp Old Bay
1.5 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
3/4 dried oregano
1 whole fruit
Use as a garnish.
Redfish & Pineapple
Local Redfish with our blackening rub applied waiting for the charcoal grill.
Procure the Redfish
We procured our cuts from Endurance Seafood. Just ask Zach, Keith or Ben to cut it the way they think is best and they’ll prepare it the way they did for us, rib bones intact. This retains the most meat and you’ll also get the added flavor from the bone. These aren’t normal fishbones, they’re much closer to what you’d expect to find in a chicken.
Prepare the Grill
Fire up the grill. We used a small Weber with your run of the mill Kingsford Charcoal. Get the coals white hot, spread them evenly and place the grate back on the grill with a light coating of non stick cooking spray. Let the grate heat up before adding the cuts of fish and pineapple.
Apply the Blackening Rub
When the filets have reached room temperature, lightly pat them dry with a paper towel. With the skin side facing down, apply the well mixed blackening rub to the fleshy side of the fish. Rub the blended spices into the fish but not too hard or you’ll damage the cuts. That’s it! You’re Redfish is ready for the grill.
Cut the Pineapple
We bought a whole pineapple from the Oriental Piggly Wiggly, aka “The Piglet”. Remove the core and skin. We cut our pieces into cubes but you can cut them into rings if you want. Just make sure they are sufficiently thick to go on the grill.
Add the Redfish & Pineapple to the Grill
The rub is applied and the grill is hot. Place the filets skin side down on the grill. Cooking time will vary depending on the heat of the grill and the thickness of the cuts. We cooked ours for about 15 minutes with the grill lid on. What you’re looking for is an even browning or reddening of the flesh. You can also test for doneness by applying light pressure with your finger. Once the thickest part of the cut has the same consistency as the meat between your thumb and first finger, the fish is done.
We spread the pineapple all around the grill and let them cook for about 10 minutes longer than the fish. You want the outside of the pineapple to be lightly charred. This will keep the juice inside hot and make the flesh tender. When you cut into them watch out! The juice will be hot!
Chopped beets tossed in Olive Oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper ready for the oven.
Procure the beets
We bought our beets from the Inland Waterway Provision Company. They keep a nice supply of locally grown produce in stock. The beets come from a farm about 5 miles outside of Oriental on Janeiro Road.
Prepare the beets
Cut the beets to your liking. We cut ours in half then chopped up each half into small chunks. Just be mindful of keeping a uniform thickness so you don’t end up over or under cooking some of the pieces. Toss the beets into your favorite stainless steel bowl. Add olive oil and mix them thoroughly to ensure an even coating. We used rosemary infused olive oil but the choice is up to you! Once the pieces are evenly coated apply coarse ground salt and pepper and mix again.
Prepare the oven
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Cook the beets
Transfer the beets from the mixing bowl to a cooking sheet. Spread them across the sheet so they cook evenly. We cooked our beets for about 35 mins which added a nice crust to the outside of them. The best way to tell if they’re done? Pull one out and try it! Just be sure to let it cool down enough before popping it in your mouth!
Pan Cooked Kale
This Kale came straight from the Oriental soil and is ready for your dinner plate.
Procure the kale
Our kale came from the same place as our beets, the Inland Waterway Provision Company via the farm on Janeiro Road. Local produce tastes better, has more essential vitamins and minerals and supports sustainable farming practices. Try to support your local farmers whenever possible.
Prepare the kale
Pull the leaves from the stems and toss them into your favorite stainless steel mixing bowl. Coat the leaves with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dash of the blackening rub. Mix thoroughly and ensure an even coating of the oil and spices on the leaves.
Prepare the pan
Turn the burner on medium heat. Coat the pan with your favorite olive oil.
Cook the kale
Once the oil has heated up add the kale. Cook till wilted.
How To Serve
Grilled & blackened Redfish with over roasted beets, pan seared kale and grilled pineapples (not pictured… they’re still on the grill!)
We like plating this dish with the fish in the middle acting as a separator between our fruits and veggies. The grilled pineapple was, well… still on the grill (ok so maybe the grill master forgot… ) but we added it stage left once it was pulled from the charcoal. Once you begin cutting into the grilled pineapples the juices will flow downhill onto the Redfish. Connoisseurs take note, this little delight might make the meal!
Summer in the south isn’t the same without the smell of gardenias! We cut three fresh from the yard to tickle the senses just a bit more while we enjoyed this fresh meal.
Light the candles, sniff the gardenia and dive in!
All the ingredients used in this dish were either caught, grown or sourced from fishermen, farmers, and grocers in Oriental, NC. Here’s where we procured our bounty.
Redfish: Endurance Seafood
Seasoning: Garland Fulcher Seafood Market
Kale, Beets, Beer: Inland Waterway Provision Company via the Barn on Janeiro Road.
Wine, Mangos, Pineapple, Celery: Piggly Wiggly (aka The Piglet)
What To Drink
Take advantage of the lemon you’ve used and add a few slices to a glass of ice water. The acid will cleanse the pallet after each drink making every bite of your meal that much better! Add a spring of mint for further freshness.
Type: IPA (India Pale Ale)
Brewery: New Belgium, Colorado and North Carolina
Hops: Nugget, Cascade, Simcoe, Chinook, Amarillo
Malts: Pale, Black
Though we encourage the wines below for optimal pairing, if you’re just not into it and want a cold beer then let’s tap into that inner Cajun and celebrate it with a little VooDoo! New Belgium brewing’s VooDoo Ranger IPA is light golden ale with pine and citrus up front and bread malt finish. This IPA has a mouthfeel that is warm and coating so you’ll want to be sure and cleanse that pallet with a swig of lemon water to maximize the flavor of the Redfish.
Varietal: Pinot Grigio (aka Pinot Gris)
Appellation: Central Coast, California
If you’re preferences are for a crisp, bright white wine we recommend the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Grigio. This pale golden white wine has mellow aromas and apple flavors with a dry light to medium body with a smooth finish with hints of minerals left on the tongue.
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Appellation: Sonoma County
If you’re preferences are for a sweeter wine then we recommend the 2016 Simi Sauvignon Blanc. This is a bright and crisp, pale-straw-colored Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of fresh straw and green papaya.