Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Make Blackened Fish or Meat

Cajun blackened catfish
Cajun Blackened Catfish
If you enjoy Cajun blackened fish or meat, here's how to make it at home. You'll need a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, and ideally you'll make this outdoors over a charcoal grill because the cooking process will produce a LOT of intense smoke, which will choke up the air indoors and set off your smoke detectors. If you have no choice but to try this recipe indoors, make sure your stove has an excellent exhaust fan.

You can use raw fish fillets such as catfish, red snapper, tilapia, trout, etc. You can also use this blackening recipe for steak, but begin with slightly undercooked steak and use this recipe to finish cooking the meat while blackening. For best results, use a genuine Cajun spice blend, such as Slap Ya Mama from Evangeline Parish, Louisiana, or a seafood blackening seasoning.

Heat your cast-iron skillet over a charcoal grill or on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes until it is very hot (you might see some smoke, which is fine). While the skillet is heating, melt some butter and pour into a shallow dish. You'll use the butter for dipping the raw fish or meat before seasoning. When the skillet is very hot, dip the fish or meat in the melted butter, remove and then generously sprinkle both sides of each fillet or steak with the Cajun seasoning -- I used the back of a spoon to press the seasoning onto the buttered fish so that it sticks better and coats the fish well. Carefully place the fish or meat in the hot skillet and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute for thin fillets or up to 2 minutes for thicker fillets  -- yes, it will cook quickly and there will be a LOT of smoke, and you will need to flip the fillets as soon as there is a crust formed on the first side.

Frying blackened catfish

Use a metal spatula to flip each fillet carefully. Expect to see even more smoke, and to remove the fish from the skillet and onto a platter within 1 minute.

cooking blackened fish

Trout or other small/thin fish fillets will thoroughly cook in as little as 2 to 3 minutes total. With thicker fillets, remove them from the skillet within 3 minutes even if not yet completely cooked, because residual heat will finish cooking them on the serving plate within an additional minute or so. However if thicker fillets still are not fully cooked (easily flaking), you can finish them in a preheated oven at 350°F degrees -- but keep your eye on them so as to not overcook! Serve hot with lemon wedges, tartar sauce, remoulade, or cocktail sauce.

With steak or other meat, you follow the same steps but you can complete the cooking during the skillet blackening process, checking carefully for your desired doneness.

Zestfully yours,

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