While today’s fishermen are partial to the big fillets like brook trout and small-mouth bass, Cherokee used even the tiniest fish, like silversides and shiners, drying them on long strings or making them into stews.
Myrtle Driver, a Cherokee elder, has a recipe for fish stew that has been passed down through her family. Gut the fish, but you can leave the head and skin on. Bake them slowly for a long time, although she isn’t sure how long.
“We don’t time it. We just look at it. We don’t measure either,” Driver said.
Once the bones have become soft during baking, put them, in a pot of boiling water and season with fatback grease and salt.
“The bones will become so soft you can eat them. They just fall apart,” Driver said.