Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vacation Inspired Cooking... New Orleans Blackened Fish

Blackened Seasoning for Fish
 On my other blog found HERE, I am slowly adding posts about our recent vacation.  The first leg of our trip was in New Orleans, Louisiana.  We flew from Denver to New Orleans and found our hotel on Canal Street with no troubles and then set out on foot to explore the French Quarter.  We walked and walked... boy, it was hot and muggy there. We live in high mountain desert in Colorado so it was quite an adjustment.  While we were looking around the French Quarter, we decided to eat at a restaurant called the River's Edge on Decatur Street.  On the menu, I eyed the jambalaya, red beans and rice, and crawfish etouffee.  I told our server I had never tried any of them and I asked which dish he thought their restaurant prepared the best.  Based on his recommendation, I ordered the crawfish etouffee.  My son ordered a shrimp po'boy sandwich, and my husband ordered blackened catfish.  When he told me he was contemplating ordering the blacked fish, I said, "Really?"  Ordinarily, he just likes battered and deep fried fish... you know... Long John Silvers (Ick!)

Turns out the blackened catfish my husband ordered at the River's Edge was his favorite meal on our entire trip.  Who would have known!?  When we returned home the other day, I looked on the internet to learn about the spices traditionally found in blackened seasoning.   I stumbled across this recipe (click here) and wouldn't you know, I had all the herbs and spices on hand.  We had individually wrapped frozen flounder fillets in the freezer (say that five times fast!) and tonight we had blackened fish for dinner.  It cooked up so quickly and easily and we gobbled it up even faster... no photo... sorry!  But you can see the spice blend above. 

Recipe for Blackened Seasoning for Fish or Chicken

From Southern Food

•2 teaspoons ground paprika
•4 teaspoons dried leaf thyme (I used about 3 1/2 teaspoons, I crushed the leaves)
•2 teaspoons onion powder
•2 teaspoons garlic powder
•1 tablespoon granulated sugar (I used only 1/2 tablespoon)
•2 teaspoons salt  (I used only 1 teaspoon kosher salt)
•2 teaspoons black pepper
•1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to your taste
•1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano (I crushed the leaves)
•3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
•1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used only 1/4 teaspoon)


Place all ingredients in a jar and store in a cool dark place. Shake jar well before each use.
Over low heat, melt about 3 tablespoon of butter (I used less) in a nonstick skillet (enough butter to cover fish and the bottom of the pan). As soon as the butter is melted, place the fish in the pan, flipping it over to cover both sides with butter. Then generously coat the fish with the seasoning, flip over again and coat the other side with seasoning.

Now turn up the heat to medium-high and cook on one side until blackened and somewhat crispy. Flip over and cook the other side. Add a little more butter whenever necessary.
Given that this recipe is far different than anything I've ever made for my family and I have very little experience cooking fish, I was a little nervous how this meal would go.  Before I could even sit down at the table, my son was diving into his fish and he said, "This is REALLY GOOD!".  Success!  We had this fish dish with big garden salads and my husband and I also had some quinoa with sauteed onion and red bell pepper.  It was all a hit!
Did you notice my little dishes above?  They have the "fleur de lis" on them.  Very New Orleans!  I had to look up "fleur de lis" to figure out how to spell it.  Here's what I learned.  The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol.  In the French Quarter you could find all kind of items (caps, shirts, glasses, etc.) embellished with the fleur de lis.  I just happened to have these little dishes on hand. 

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