"Freshwater Drum are plentiful in both Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. They can be angled in various ways with my preference being any casting bait from spoons to cranks, even jerk-baits work well."
Freshwater Drumbalaya: Wild Game Recipe
The Best Tasting Fish In The Lake
I have said it many times, a ton at this point and I will say it again… If you are not keeping freshwater drum for the table, you’re missing out on the best tasting fish Manitoba has to offer! It’s not just the flavour for me, but the texture is perfect as the muscle holds together well in dishes and is perfect for grilling, without half of your food falling through the cracks.
Freshwater Drum are plentiful in both Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. They can be angled in various ways with my preference being any casting bait from spoons to cranks, even jerk-baits work well. They trick I have found to be most useful is to head out prepared with a few different options that allow you to vary your depth control; sometimes you want to keep that bait higher in the column and just barely under the surface, while other times they want a square-bill making contact with bottom and smacking into rocks. When the bite is slow, salted minnows or worms sitting on bottom can be the best way to find action, but I will suggest to always keep a hand on the rod to answer any nibble with a hook-set, otherwise they’re prone to swallow the hook, typically without much visual indication on the rod tip as they seem to hover over the bait while they eat rather than grab it and run.
Let's get into the Drumbalaya. It all started out as a bit of a joke between us at Hunt Fish MB, discussing how Jambalaya would be a great dish to create with fish and the wordplay took off from there. The concept of Drumbalaya was born.
This is a fairly traditional version of jambalaya, starting with a roux, adding the holy trinity, some quality sausages, other tasty things and rice. The best part about this dish is that it all comes together in one pot and packs in a lot of fantastic flavour within minimal effort, you just need a touch of patience, first as the roux develops and second as the rice cooks. I often make this one or at least some variation of it over the fire, lakeside. As long as you spend a few minutes beforehand prepping your ingredients, it will come together smoothly. So give it a try, I have full confidence in your cooking skills!
What goes in it:
- 1-½ pounds fresh Drum fillets, cubed - Half Cup of canola oil - Half Cup of flour - Half Cup of celery, diced up - 1 diced onion - Half Green pepper, diced - 4-6 cloves of crushed garlic (add more if you’re like me) - 1 can of your favourite beer - 1 pound or so of andouille or chorizo sausage, chopped into small pieces - 2 Cups of long grain rice - Canned crushed tomatoes, about 2 Cup - Box of chicken stock, you’ll use about 2-3 cups - Salt + pepper - Cajun seasoning to taste, Old Bay is great for this too - 8 scallions/green onions, sliced
How to make it:
Add a touch of oil to a hot pan and fry the chorizo sausage until it’s cooked and crispy on the outside.
Now for the roux, add the oil and flour to the pan on low to medium heat. This takes a little time, so be patient and keep stirring! You want to stir until you’ve achieved a milk chocolate colour. Be very careful with this molten mixture as well, IT IS HOT!
As soon as you’ve reached your perfect brown colour, add the chopped onions, celery and peppers to stop the roux from browning. Cook until they start to soften a bit and add your garlic.
Now add the pre-cooked sausage back to the pan and mix.
Add the liquid ingredients; tomato, beer and stock.
One the liquids have bubbled away for about 10 minutes, add some salt, pepper, seasoning and add in the rice.
Be patient with the rice as it cooks, tasting and stirring along the way. If theres any seasoning missing, add some.
Once the rise is close to tender. Add your chunks of freshwater drum and carefully fold them into the mixture. Allow the fish to cook in the rice for about 5-10 minutes and once its cooked through, you are ready to eat!
Dish into a bowl and load the top up with scallions.