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Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce

Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce

As many of you know, Jeremy and I are writing a book about Southeastern Louisiana foodways. We’re in the thick of research right now, and we’re also conducting in-person interviews. Our very first interview was Mr. Tom Hymel of the LSU Ag Center. We drove out to New Iberia one chilly Friday afternoon, excited about our first interview. Mr. Hymel is not only deeply involved with his work at the Ag center, but he’s also the head of Louisiana Direct Seafood, a joint marketing program between the LSU Ag Center and Louisiana Sea Grant that puts fishermen in Southeastern Louisiana in touch with consumers directly to help build community support for fresh, local, high quality seafood.

While Mr. Hymel and his team have many initiatives in motion to help the shrimpers and fishermen, the one I am most excited about it the launch of their new brand – Vermilion Bay Sweet. This brand is relatively new and was once only for shrimp. The shrimp from Vermilion Bay and the area are known for being so delicious that they’re almost sweet, hence the name. Recently, a fisherman named Douglas Olander from Franklin, La. has licensed that name for his black drum fish. Black drum is a saltwater fish typically found along the coast in and around estuary areas. Black drum average between 5 and 30 pounds (but can reach over 50), and they’ve been known to live for over 40 years. Pretty amazing. The flavor of the black drum is tasty as well. It has firm yet tender flesh with mild flavor (pretty similar to snapper).

Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce
As we were interviewing Mr. Hymel, he was telling us all about this Vermilion Bay Sweet branding project along with other projects he’s undertaking. At one point he mentioned that the fish were being sold in a local grocery store there in New Iberia – Bi-Lo. Once we realized how close we were to the Bi-Lo grocery store, Jeremy and I headed there after the interview. Not only did they have the black drum, but they also had the shrimp. We bought two large black drum filets and headed toward the door. It was a long drive back to New Orleans and we now had frozen fish to tend to.

Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce
A couple of weeks after returning home, I still hadn’t figured out exactly what I wanted to do with my black drum. One day I was rummaging through the pantry and came across some left over pecans that I’d purchased for my Satsuma Pecan Muffins. All of a sudden it hit me: a pecan Meunière sauce with pan-fried fish. Oh yes, just like that, my mind was made up. Fried fish with a pecan butter sauce. Can life get any better and more decadent? Truly, I think not.

Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce
Let’s get one thing straight about this Meunière sauce: I was eating it with a spoon. Right out of the skillet. For true, no shame. This sauce is so decadent and so delicious – it’s basically butter, pecans and lemon juice. Oh my, it was fantastic. My recipe was inspired by Saveur’s Trout Amandine sauce, but I take full credit for the tastiness of this final sauce because I did tweak it a bit. The Meyer lemon lends a wonderful tangy lemony flavor without being too sour. It was the perfect balance.

Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce
So if you’re not from New Orleans or familiar with its cuisine, you might not know exactly what a Meunière sauce is. A Meunière sauce is a type of brown butter sauce, typically served with fish. It’s traditionally composed of browned butter, an acid (usually lemon juice and/or vinegar), and chopped parsley. But just like any good sauce, there are many variations. For example, Chef Emeril Lagasse does a cream-based Creole version with Worcestershire in it. I thought about doing that style, but in the end, I stuck with the classic brown butter based sauce. I was already planning to fry the fish, and I used a whole stick of butter for the sauce so I figured I had decadence on a pretty solid lockdown at that point.

Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce

I mentioned Saveur’s Trout Amandine before. I am sure most of you are familiar with that dish and preparation. An Amandine sauce is basically a Meunière sauce with almonds added. So I took it back to the Meunière and added pecans to make it true Louisiana dish – the pecans I used here are from Inglewood Farm and were grown in Alexandria, La. I have to say, I like pecans better than almonds. Both are delicious, but the pecans just have my heart.

What about you? Have you tried black drum fish before? How did you like it? If not, what is your favorite fish? Let me know in the comments below.

Yield: 2 servings

Pan-Fried Black Drum Recipe with Pecan Meunière Sauce

This pan-fried black drum recipe features a buttery pecan Meunière sauce. It's light in texture, crispy-coated and totally delicious.

Ingredients:

Fish: 

  • 2-4 oz black drum fish filets (substitute snapper, grouper, red drum or striped bass, if needed)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (like olive, grape seed or safflower seed)

Meunière Sauce:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley

Method:

Preparing the Fish:

  1. Rinse the black drum filets and pat them dry.
  2. In a small mixing bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the milk, egg, mustard, kosher salt and cayenne pepper. Spread the cup of flour on shallow dish like a dinner plate.
  3. First dredge the fish in the flour, then into the egg/milk mix and then back into the flour.
  4. Lay in a single layer on a flat surface like a plate or baking sheet. Allow the battered fish filets to sit while making the Meunière sauce.

Meunière Sauce: 

  1. Start by melting butter in a large, wide skillet over low heat. Watch it carefully to make sure butter doesn’t burn.  Continue to cook for about 6-7 minutes, until butter is golden brown and milk fat solids have browned lightly as well.
  2. Add pecans and cook for about one minute, until they are shiny and slightly toasted in the butter.  The butter will be foamy at this stage.
  3. Remove from heat. Whisk in the kosher salt, champagne vinegar and meyer lemon juice. Set aside for now.

Finishing the Dish: 

  1. Add the neutral oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the black drum filets.
  3. Cook about 2 minutes per side. Don’t overcook the fish - it will dry out.
  4. Set fish filets on plate. Whisk the parsley into the Meunière sauce and then divide it between the two fish pieces.
  5. This fish dish is delicious served with mashed turnips and braised collard greens. If cooking those, prepare ahead of time and then cook the black drum and Meunière sauce last.

Prep:20 min

Cook:15 min

Total:35 min

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