Blackened Cajun Fish

( 5 out of 5 )
Save Recipe CBF01F
  • -4Servings+
  • 15 mPrep Time
  • 10 mCook Time
  • 25 mReady In
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“When the taste changes with every bite and the last bite tastes as good as the first, that’s Cajun.” Chef Paul Prudhomme

Popular Louisiana chefs Paul Prudhomme and Justin Wilson sparked an interest in Cajun food during the 1980s. In the spring of 1980, Chef Paul decided to unveil something new at his New Orleans restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. He’d been experimenting for years with a method of coating seafood with a variety of Cajun herbs and spices, then searing the fish in a cast-iron skillet until charred … thus blackened. One evening in March, he served his new Blackened Redfish creation to a few dozen people. It wasn’t just a hit, it became a phenomenon! Within days, the restaurant was full of hungry diners eager to try this new preparation style. Within weeks, there were lines around the block. The trend quickly spread to restaurants all up the east coast and then across the entire nation. Chef Paul’s signature dish was so popular that it actually became a problem. In order to meet increasing commercial demand, Redfish (or Red Drum) were overfished in Louisiana and all along the Gulf Coast so much so that they became scarce for nearly a decade afterward. It wasn’t until many U.S. coastal state governments, and finally the federal government, initiated harvesting regulations that the Redfish population was successfully replenished.

Chef Paul’s cooking method for this dish was simple … he dipped each fish fillet in melted butter, liberally coated it with his then secret seasoning powder, and then cooked it on each side in an almost red-hot cast-iron skillet. When trying his method inside a residential kitchen, one is at risk in setting off smoke alarms and causing the next door neighbor to call the fire department. My method is a little less ‘alarming’ but produces similar tasty results. I use Chef Paul’s blackening seasoning since it is now available under his “Magic Seasoning” label in most grocery stores. I only sear each seasoned fillet for about 90 seconds per side and then transfer it to a baking dish where it high-temp bakes for about 8 minutes.
This recipe will work with almost any variety of fish as long as it is thick and fairly firm … Redfish, Cod, Salmon, and even Catfish. Also, this cooking method will work successfully with steak, pork chops, and chicken.

Cook’s Notes – Blackened Fish is pan-seared on the stovetop in just a few minutes. It’s completely optional but, if you add a few drops of honey, it takes this fish fillet recipe over the top! Some people want bold, blackened crust on their fish. End of story. No problem! This recipe will let you do just that. Others prefer a little sweetness to offset the heat. Fans of baked blackened chicken know the secret. Add a smidgeon of honey along with the Cajun spices!
• Fish fillets or loins. Most any variety will suffice … Redfish, Cod, Snapper, Salmon, even Catfish or Tilapia. You’ll find large fish fillets available at the fish counter. You may also find smaller fish loins, which are the middle section of the fillets and are considered premium quality. It’s easier to work with smaller fish pieces, so cut larger fillets as needed.
• Blackened seasoning. This is often labeled Cajun or Creole seasoning in the grocery store. Cajun blends tend to favor the heat from cayenne pepper. Creole spices incorporate more herbs like oregano and thyme. Chef Paul Prudehomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning is preferred!
• Olive oil. Butter can be used with olive oil to create the crust on the fish fillets. When heating up the olive oil, add about 1 Tablespoon to the pan.
• Honey (optional) Leave out the honey to keep this a strictly low-carb recipe. However, you don’t need much to achieve a balance of sweet and spicy. ½ teaspoon per serving adds about 10 calories and 2.8 carbohydrates.

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Step by step method

  • 1

    Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. If desired, add 2 pats of butter to the pan too.

  • 2

    Pat pieces of fish dry to remove any moisture, and add a few drops of honey to the top of each fillet, if using. Use a silicone pastry brush or the back of a spoon to rub the honey over one side of the fish. I only add it to the top side!

  • 3

    Sprinkle Cajun seasoning on each side. About 1-2 teaspoons per 5-8 ounce serving is suggested. If the fish is thick and small, which can be the case for some fillets, you may use less spice.

  • 4

    Place the fillet in the hot skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, undisturbed. Flip it over with a spatula and cook for 1-2 minutes more; carefully remove the fillets from the skillet and place them in a baking dish that’s been greased with butter and/or EVOO.

  • 5

    Top each fillet with 2 pats of butter and top each with a slice of lemon. Then bake the fillets at 450 °F in the oven for about 7-8 minutes or until the flesh is white and flaky and the internal temperature for the fish has reached 145 °F. If available, a temperature probe inserted into the thickest part of the fillet will provide you with an exact temp reading.

  • 6

    Serve piping hot. Suggested sides include baked garlic cheese grits and sauteed mixed vegetables.

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