The secrets to a really tasty piece of blackened fish are 1) a really tasty Creole seasoning, and 2) not overcooking the fish. I use a slightly modified version of Emeril’s recipe for Creole Seasoning – because he should know, right? The seasoning is easy to make fresh with your own spices, and it’s really good on chicken, steaks, pork, or fish. I have used it with tuna and flounder – both were incredible! I think most mild fish will work – red snapper, catfish, grouper, cod also come to mind.
In a restaurant setting, blackened fish is cooked in a red-hot skillet, with plenty of accompanying smoke. Cooking in your home, you might want to avoid this. Chef Paul Prudhomme recommends “bronzing”, rather than blackening the fish at home. This still means using a very hot skillet, but not so hot that it produces smoke. He recommends cooking at 350F. Although I did not take the temperature of my pan, it’s helpful to realize this is the temperature generally used for deep frying – - still pretty darn hot!
Our blackened flounder, shown here, was served with oven-roasted potatoes and avocado. The cool and creamy avocado, with a squeeze of lime, really helped cut the heat from the spicy fish. This is a delicious and simple meal that we will do again!
Note: I’ve provided links to the products that I used from The Spice House. I like The Spice House because their herbs and spices are really fresh and high quality, plus they have a decent selection of organic products. I also like that you can buy refills that come in bags, and that saves money. I do not have any business relationship with The Spice House.
Creole Seasoning (Makes about 2/3 cup – Store in glass jar with lid):
- 1 tablespoon hot Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper or pepper blend (I used Florida Seasoned Pepper)
- 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients for the seasoning, thoroughly. (You will not need all of it for this recipe; store extra in a sealed jar.)
Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry with towels. If necessary, cut the fish in portions that will fit in your skillet. Coat the fish on both sides with seasoning mix, pressing it onto the fish to get a good layer of seasoning.
Heat a large skillet over high heat and add a thin layer of oil to the pan (suitable for high-heat cooking). When very hot, and without crowding the pan, place seasoned fish in the skillet and cook without moving the fish for 3-4 minutes, until nicely “bronzed”. Flip the fish over and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the fish is done (opaque in center). Repeat for the rest of the fillets – adding oil as necessary and keeping the skillet very hot.
Serve it hot, with a squeeze of lime juice! Enjoy!
You’ll need something to calm you down after the Blackened Flounder…so let’s try some ballads from two of the giants of jazz! First up, the incomparable Bill Evans with Moon Beams. Evans was one of the greats, performing with everyone from Miles on Kind of Blue to Tony Bennett. His piano is moody, introspective and always interesting here, on such numbers as “If You Could See Me Now” and “I Fall in Love Too Easily”. A classic record.
Nobody is more classic than John Coltrane, and on Ballads he slows the tempo down, without losing any depth of passion. His interplay with McCoy Tyner’s piano on cuts such as “All or Nothing At All” or my favorite, “Nancy (With The Laughing Face”) is almost telepathic. Sublime stuff!