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.

Barton Warren Redfish drawing provided by the University of Washington Marine Image Bank.
An 1897 drawing by Barton Warren of a Redfish courtesy of The University of Washington Marine Image Bank.

In the late summer 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. These old drum are always released back into the water and should never end up on a dinner plate!

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

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!

Meal overview

Ingredients for grilled and blackened Redfish.
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

  • Ingredients for grilled and blackened Redfish. REDFISH: 4 lbs
  • Roasted beets on a cooking sheet ready for the oven. BEETS: 2 lbs
  • Fresh Kale grown in Oriental, NC sold by the Inland Waterway Provision Company.KALE: 1 bunch
  • PINEAPPLE: 1 whole fruit
  • MANGO: 1 whole fruit
  • Spices in a bowl ready to be mixed for blackening rub on Redfish. BLACKENING RUB

    • 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
  • LEMON: 1 whole fruit
  • GARLIC: 1/2 clove
  • PARSLEY: 4 sprigs Use as a garnish.

Cooking instructions

Redfish & Pineapple

Blackened Redfish on cooking sheet ready to be grilled.
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!

Roasted Beets

Roasted beets to compliment our grilled and blackened Redfish.
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

Fresh Kale grown in Oriental, NC sold by the Inland Waterway Provision Company.

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


Blackened redfish plated and ready 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.


Grilled and blackened redfish served on the dinner table.

Final notes

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

Non Alcoholic

Blackened redfish non-alcoholic pairing, lemon water with mint.

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.


Blackened redfish beer pairing, Voodoo Ranger IPA by New Belgium Brewing.

Type: IPA (India Pale Ale) 
Brewery: New Belgium, Colorado and North Carolina
Alcohol: 7%
IBU: 50
Yeast: Ale
Hops: Nugget, Cascade, Simcoe, Chinook, Amarillo
Malts: Pale, Black
Tasting Notes:

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.


Wine pairing for blackened redfish, Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Grigio.

Vintage: 2015
Varietal: Pinot Grigio (aka Pinot Gris)
Appellation: Central Coast, California
Alcohol: 12%
Tasting Notes:

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.

Wine pairing for blackened redfish. Simi Sauvignon Blanc.

Vintage: 2016
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Appellation: Sonoma County
Alcohol: 13.5%
Tasting Notes:

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.