American Oceans

Can You Eat Black Drum? 

Distinguished from its red drum cousin by jet black fins and black striped scales, the black drum is a saltwater fish inhabiting the Atlantic waters. They are the largest species in their family, with an average weight between 5 and 30 lbs. They’re bottom-feeding fish, consuming smaller fish and crustaceans. Can you eat black drum fish?

Black drum

Black drums are prevalent in northern and southern Atlantic coastal regions, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. They’re an easy catch for sports and commercial fishermen, and the smaller specimens are popular fish to eat.

If you’ve been wondering whether you can eat black drums, the following sections will explain how to eat them and what they taste like.

Black Drum Overview

Black drum is a delicious fish to eat and a fun challenge for amateur fishermen. They’re easy enough to lure, but once they latch on to the bait, they’ll put up a fair fight! 

fisherman is holding a huge fish black drum

Whether you catch them or buy them at the fish counter, Black drums are safe to eat once they’re cleaned and deboned. Swallowing a spikey fish bone or rough scale may cause harm, but it’s far from deadly.

The larger the fish, the less desirable the meat. Thus, black drums between 5 and 15 lbs. offer the best texture and flavor. You’ll see black drums on the menu at many seafood restaurants along the Atlantic coast. 

What Does It Taste Like?

Black drums are meaty, moist, and flakey without being oily. Their mild, slightly sweet flavor and hefty texture stand up to numerous cooking methods. 

Chefs and consumers liken the taste of the black drum to that of the red snapper. It’s touted for its lean protein content and a great source of omega-three fatty acids. 

Eating Black Drum Raw

You can eat black drum raw in ceviche or as sashimi, but this is a rarity. Some health officials advise against eating raw black drums due to the content of mercury.

raw black drum fillets

Only the smallest black drum catches are used in raw consumption, otherwise, the texture will be unpleasant. The smaller the species, the flakier and lighter the meat, which is the optimal texture for raw consumption. 

Since black drums are thick, large-flake fish with edible skin, they lend well to most cooking methods. You can bread and fry them as easily as you can bake them with a bit of olive oil and lemon. Their moisture and thickness also make them great for grilling.

When you’re buying a black drum for consumption, it’s best to buy the smallest fish you can find to get the best texture and flavor.

Black drums have a high-fat content, so if you’re looking for the healthiest preparation, throwing it on the grill would be best.

baked drum fish with lemon

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