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Food & Drink Blog

Monday Meal: Blackened Fish Fillets

by Ted Scheffler
- Posted // 2012-10-29 -

Back in the 1980s, before the celebrity-TV-chef boom took hold, Paul Prudhomme was about as famous as a chef could get. It was then that he invented his famous blackened fish, a dish that became wildly popular, in his New Orleans restaurant called K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. I first encountered blackened fish at Prudhomme's short-lived New York City outpost of K-Paul's.

It's unfortunate that he chose to call the fish "blackened" because, sadly, almost every time I now order blackened fish or chicken in restaurants, that's exactly how it comes: charred, bitter and blackened. But Prudhomme's own version is more subtle. The entire fish isn't completely blackened, just in a few spots; it doesn't taste burned and bitter. The photo below is of Prudhomme's blackened redfish.

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Photo courtesy ChefPaul.com

Here is the basic recipe for blackened fish fillets that chef Paul uses. It works well with any firm-fleshed fish like catfish, grouper, redfish, snapper, tuna or salmon steaks. For this recipe, I used Pacific snapper. It's a ridiculously easy dish to cook, but one with tremendous flavor.

WARNING: Doing blackened fish or chicken in the kitchen will most likely set off every smoke alarm in your house. So, unless you have a professional/industrial-strength hood vent over your stove, I STRONGLY suggest cooking outside on the grill. There WILL be smoke -- lots of it.

Ingredients:

Fish fillets, one per person, about 1/2 inch thick

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic* or other Creole seasoning

1/2 stick unsalted butter (for 6 fillets; less, if you make fewer)

*You can also make your own Creole seasoning. Here is the basic recipe for that:

1 Tbs. sweet paprika

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. onion powder

3/4 tsp. ground white pepper

3/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

Combine all the spice ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

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Method:

Place a dry cast-iron skillet on the grates of an outdoor grill. Heat the grill to about 600 F. You want to get the skillet super-hot before cooking. DON'T put any oil, butter or anything else into the skillet. It must be DRY.

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Place the fish fillets on a large platter or plate. Melt the butter and drizzle it over the fish.

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Sprinkle the fillets on one side with about 3/4 tsp. Redfish Magic per fillet. Chef Paul warns to not overseason the fish. The seasoning should "highlight the taste rather than hide or overpower it."

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Turn the fillets over and repeat with the rest of the butter and 3/4 tsp. seasoning per fillet.

When your iron skillet is extremely hot, place the fillets into the dry skillet.

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Cook, turning once, until the fish begins to flake, about 4-5 minutes total cooking time.

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Remove the fillets to serving plates and serve piping hot. The blackened fish here are pictured with a side of dirty rice.

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Photos by Ted Scheffler

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