Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Drum Fish

Last week I published a link to David Cecelski's on-line article about the connection between Ocracoke and Philadelphia. In that article Cecelski mentions "Old Drum," a quintessential island dish prepared from channel bass, potatoes, onions, boiled eggs, and cracklings.

He writes, "According to Blanche [Howard Jolliff], the Ocracokers in Philly had a special fondness for the bars along Delaware Avenue. So, she told me, an old saying was that if somebody ran down Delaware Avenue yelling “Old drum! Old drum!” a crowd would have poured into the street!" (Read the entire article at

As fate would have it, soon after the article was written I was given a goodly portion of channel bass (drum) and blue fish. A traditional Sunday evening dinner resulted:

You might want to try it sometime. Here is Danny & Margaret Garrish's recipe as printed in the Ocracoke Cookbook:

The "ceremony:" Boil drum in lightly salted water until it flakes. In another pot, boil about 2 medium potatoes per person. Hard boil 2 eggs per person. Dice a good size bowl of onions. Dice and fry-out (render) salt pork until brown and crunchy.

Assemble at the table, fixing each plate individually. Mash potatoes with fork, flake drum in with potatoes and sprinkle generously with diced onion. Add salt, pepper and chop up the hard boiled egg in the mixture, adding a good helping of cracklings and grease. Sprinkle with vinegar if desired. Enjoy!

Be sure to mix enough on the first plate. Somehow the second plateful never tastes as good as the first. Never plan anything for a couple of hours after you eat this. Just slide under the table and rest a spell. Don't forget the baked cornbread and lots of butter.


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