We first encountered Blackened Redfish when dining at K-Paul’s in New Orleans around 1985. Chef Paul Prudhomme literally invented this bold method for searing the flavor into fish fillet while keeping the flesh delightfully moist. To say the least, we were bowled over by his signature dish and flew home and bought his cookbook. Fast-forward 30 years and Chef Paul is no longer mentioning his ingredients and is instead selling little jars of the blackening spice for big bucks. That’s OK, because our tastes have changed and pure Cajun is just too one-note to compete for a place in our pantry. The ingredients used in Chef Paul’s original recipe (I haven’t tasted his bottled product) were a little heavy on the Thyme and Oregano. Besides, our horizons have widened to encompass Latin and Asian influences.
Without further ado, here is our take on a modern spice rub that will tip you back in your chair:
BLACKENED FISH RECIPE
Blackened fish at table
YIELD: 4 (4 Servings)
PREP: 15 mins
COOK: 5 mins
READY IN: 30 mins
Blackening spice directions and ingredients plus details on blackening fish in a hot skillet.
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper
2 Teaspoon Paprika
2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper Fresh Ground
1/2 Teaspoon Brown Sugar Light Brown
1 Teaspoon Furikake with Wasabi
You may substitute Kosher Salt for Smoke Salt, but you’ll want something else smoked like the Paprika. Feel free to add more Indian zing by toasting some coriander and cardamom. Also, Turmeric is an interesting addition of both color and flavor.
If you don’t have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, select a non-stick skillet with the heaviest bottom. Toast the whole spices in the skillet just until they are aromatic (white peppercorns, black peppercorns, and cumin seed). Add to your spice grinder and run until powdered. Place the powder and all the remaining herbs and spices into a zip lock bag or freezer container and shake well. It is now technically a spice rub. Spoon the rub over dry fish filets just to cover completely. Dust off any excess. Don’t wait long for cooking or the rub will extract moisture from your filets. Place your skillet on high heat and pour in 1 or 2 tablespoons of Canola Oil. Heat the skillet until smoking hot (yes, really smoking so have the exhaust fan on high or cook outdoors).
Use the tongs to gently place the fish without splashing.
Cook uncovered for one minute. Quickly turn the filets, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan.
Set the timer for 4 minutes for most fish. Under two minutes for Sashimi grade. Longer than 4 minutes for a thick fillet like Halibut, Mong Chong, or Monk Fish. Plate the fish directly from the pan, squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon, optionally top with a small pat of unsalted butter, and sprinkle with some chopped parsley. Serve immediately with side dishes of your choice.
SKILL LEVEL: Advanced