Pick a spice blend, and then, literally, burn the fish fillet. Voilà—a fantastic dinner is served.
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Blackened fish is steeped not only in flavor but also in culinary legend.

In the 1980s, it was blackened redfish that brought Cajun cooking to prominence. Chef Paul Prudhomme introduced this dish at his celebrated New Orleans haunt, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. It combined the richness of a well-buttered thin redfish fillet with a spice mixture as spirited as a Mardi Gras krewe in full regalia.

The dish proved so popular that redfish, also called red drum, was heavily fished and nearly disappeared from the Gulf of Mexico later that same decade.

Redfish is now farmed, so the original dish endures, but the quick cooking technique has evolved and now is applied to center-of-the-plate stars such as tuna, tilapia, chicken, and cauliflower steaks.

The method is called blackening because the point is to appropriately burn (blacken) the spice coating. Yes, you have permission to burn your food! There are as many blackening spice recipes as there are types of seafood, so pair your chosen blend (or use mine) with the catch of the day, and make the act of cooking dinner an exciting discovery.

View Recipe: Blackened Catfish