Are Black Drum Good to Eat?

Black drum are widespread across North America, common in brackish waterways as well as saltwater habitats from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Nova Scotia.   They are a popular sportfish, but are they as enjoyable to eat as they are to catch?

Black drum are a delicious saltwater fish packed with nutrients that are consumed around the world.  Though some anglers don’t partake in black drum, they can be eaten either raw or cooked, depending on the dish.  

Do Black Drum Taste Good?

Yes, black drum tastes great, and its flavor can vary depending on how it is prepared.  Its meat is firm and white with a naturally mild flavor.  When cooked the meat becomes very flakey and tender.  Some anglers compare the taste to mackerel or red drum, with a less fishy taste.

For those who are unfamiliar or unsure about eating seafood, black drum are a great place to start due to their mild taste compared to other saltwater fish.  If you enjoy eating black drum, there is a good chance that you will acquire a taste for other seafood options.

What Is The Best Tasting Size Of Black Drum

Are Black Drum Good to Eat?

Like most other fish species, the biggest specimen is rarely the tastiest or healthiest.  Older fish have more time to accumulate toxins within their bodies, making them taste bad or have the potential to have negative health effects on humans.

The world record black drum weighed in at 113 pounds, but this is much larger than anyone should eat if you are expecting a delicious meal.  Most anglers agree that 2-13 pound black drum are the best tasting, this translates to about 14-30 inches.

As black drum continue to grow past 30 pounds they lose the delicious flavor that they are known for and have a higher chance of having high levels of contaminants in their meat.

Black drum are also eaten raw as ceviche and sashimi, but they are much smaller when used in these dishes.  Most people prefer drum that are under five pounds when prepared in this manner.  Raw black drum meat tends to get coarse and tough as the size of the fish increases.

Health Benefits Of Eating Black Drum

Like many other fish species, black drum is a great high-protein low-fat option for those who are watching their weight.  They are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin A.  Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium which can prevent bone loss due to osteoporosis.

On top of this, black drum is a great source of B vitamins, vitamin A, potassium, selenium, and phosphorous.

Nutritional Profile Of Black Drum

Black drum is packed with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that make it a healthy seafood option for all.  All of these values are based on a 3oz (85g) serving and a 2000 calorie diet.

Amount Per 3oz ServingDaily Recommended Value
Total Fat5.37 g78 g
Saturated Fat1.22 g20 g
Unsaturated Fat3.69 g58 g
Omega-3s (EPA, DHA, ALA)720 mg
Protein19.1 g50 g
Sodium81.6 mg2,300 mg
Amount Per 3oz Serving%  Of Daily Recommended Value
A167 IU21%
B1 (Thiamin)0.07 mg6%
B2 (Riboflavin)0.176 mg11%
B3 (Niacin)2.43 mg15%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)0.735 mg15%
B60.294 mg17%
B121.96 ug82%
Mineral/ElectrolyteAmount Per 3oz Serving%  Of Daily Recommended Value
Magnesium32.3 mg8%
Phosphorus196 mg36%
Potassium300 mg6%
Selenium13.8 ug25%

How To Clean Black Drum

Black drum are almost as easy to clean as most other white meat fish, but with one extra step.

  • First the fish should be scaled, this can be made much easier by employing a sink or garden hose to remove any residual slime, making the fish easier to grip.
  • Leaving the fish under running water for a few minutes will help loosen the scales, making them easier to remove
  • Using a dull knife or fish scaler, scrape the scales off one side of the fish, starting at the tail and moving toward the gills. Flip the fish and repeat the process on the other side.
  • Rinse the fish again to remove any leftover scales.
  • Scaling the fish isn’t necessary, you can also attempt to cut carefully in between the skin and the meat.  This method is quicker for experienced anglers, but can be more tedious than scaling the fish.
  • You can cook the fish in a pan with the skin and scales still attached, making them easier to remove afterwards.
  • To obtain fillets, start your cut just behind the gills and work your way toward the dorsal fin, and then toward the tail.
  • For larger drum you will have to cut around the ribs, because they are stronger and thicker than your typical freshwater fish.
  • Remove any residual skin from the meat and enjoy!

Be sure to try both methods of cleaning black drum to find out which one is easier for you.

Popular Ways To Cook Black Drum

Black drum can be prepared in a variety of different ways, popular dishes include combining the fish with other seafood dishes or served by itself after being grilled, fried, or steamed.

Black Drum Cakes

If you are a fan of crab cakes, then you will surely enjoy this spin on an east coast tradition..  They can be combined with bread crumbs and your favorite seasonings, like Old Bay and garlic, to make a delicious cake that rivals the taste of a New England crab cake.

Steamed Black Drum And Mussels

This is a great seafood combo that is very popular to any coastal lovers of saltwater fish.  The drum can be lightly seasoned with salt, butter, and lemon, while being steamed with shell fish such as oysters or mussels for a seafood combination that is hard to beat.

Black Drum Steaks

A popular way to prepare larger drum is to blacken or grill the thicker fillets into steaks.  They are generally served with sweet potatoes, shallots, and asparagus, for a surf version of a popular turf meal.

Do All Anglers Eat Black Drum?

Though black drum are a delicious saltwater treat, not all anglers choose to eat them.  Older fish can contain parasites, and some anglers aren’t comfortable eating black drum based on their feeding habits.  

Spaghetti Worms

A major reason that anglers don’t eat black drum is that larger and older specimens frequently possess parasites known as spaghetti worms.  

Spaghetti worms are a type of tapeworm that is common in many shark species.  Trout and drum are usually just temporary hosts until the worm matures.  They are white worms that range from one to three inches.

While they aren’t hazardous to human health, they are unappealing to look at. Though these parasites look unappetizing, there are reports of anglers simply removing them or cooking the fish to kill them.  

Misconceptions About Feeding Habits

Black drum get lumped in with other “bottom feeding” fish species like catfish.  Though these fish feed near or on the bottom, this doesn’t necessarily affect their taste.  

They primarily feed on shrimp, crab, mussels, and oysters, which are many of the same seafoods that are enjoyed by coastal anglers.. These protein packed snacks help drum grow to the larger sizes that they are so popular to eat..

Final Thoughts

Black drum are a great option for seafood lovers that are on a diet.  They are easily prepared in a multitude of different varieties that just about any lover of fish will appreciate.  Eating smaller sized black drum is a great way to avoid spaghetti worms while indulging in the most tender meat.

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