The Fish & Chips Co-NONE-drum
Over the past year at the Co-op I have learned everything there is to know about our fish and chips and the cult-like following that it inspires. The people love it and the people gotta have it and the people feel all of life’s disappointments when the people can’t get it. Because I love fish and chips and I love giving the people what they want, I am here to set the record straight and hopefully put minds at ease.
Black Drum (Pogonias cromis to be exact) is the flaky white fish we use for this dish. It has a clean, briny flavor and fries well in a wet batter. However, the fish itself is quite sensitive and many variables affect it’s availability and it’s market price. The first factor is how they fish for Black Drum. It must be sport fished (caught with rod & reel), the size must be between 14in-30in, and it is caught using flat-bottom/shallow water boats. They are found in the jetties and shallow channels around the gulf near structures and feed mostly on shrimp, crab, and oysters near the muddy shores of the gulf. Because of this habitat they are sensitive to temperature changes and increased barometric pressure. This means extreme weather makes them run to deeper water making it more challenging to be caught by the fisherman in the flat-bottom fishing boats they use. During winter storm Uri the Drum populations became almost non-existent. Following that storm was the beginning of hurricane season and tropical depressions that brought weeks of rainy days and then we rolled into the heat wave we are currently experiencing. All of this to paint a picture of the stress that these animals have been under and why it’s making it hard to catch enough to keep up with demand.
Due to all these factors we, as a leadership team, decided to move to a catfish dish for the summertime. Austin is, after all, an inland city and sourcing from the Gulf is a luxury that only became apparent during the pandemic when the luxury was no longer there. Our catfish is farmed nearby in Texas and is not as affected by the weather in the Gulf of Mexico. Rest assured that every time we place an order with our seafood distributor we inquire about the status of Black Drum and it’s availability and when they believe it should level out. I know how important this dish is to our community here and I want to provide the people with the things that make them happy. As soon as our weather becomes even a little bit predictable and the fisherman get back to fishing we will restore the Fish and Chips to it’s fabled glory and good times will be had by all. I hope this was informational and we appreciate the understanding of all our guests when dining with us at Black Star.