Sunday, November 10, 2013

Choctaw Pompano A La Mud

This is from Howard Mitcham's incredible tome of seafood cookery and jazz history Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz.  He says that he got the idea from an old Choctaw Indian fried of his by the name of Nick Ducre' and that it originated on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  This is really more of a cooking method, rather than a recipe with specific amounts.  I have made this and it is really, really good!  Any type of whole fish can be used in this.  Trout would be an excellent substitute for the pompano.  It is a very ancient cooking method that can be found in various forms all over the world.  I have experimented, for example, with a very old "recipe" from the British Isles that is very similar with just as good results.

Choctaw Pompano A La Mud

Rub a whole pompano with oil, salt and pepper, wrap it in a tight layer of dampened paper towels.  Get some firm clay that's free of sand, moisten it just enough to make it thick and malleable, and cover the fish all around with a one-inch of the mud.  Place the package on the coals of the campfire and cover with more hot coals.  Let it bake for a couple of hours or more, or until the clay is hard as a brick.  Bring it to the table and crack the clay open with a hammer.  Remove the paper towels.  

The Indians used this method for cooking all sorts of fresh-water and salt-water fishes, but just as we do, they treasured the pompano over all other fishes.

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