The eighth post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.
In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips. And also cooking some of our favorite Louisiana recipes at home to get in the right mood – yum! Last night, it was Paul Prudhomme’s blackened fish. Actually, his recipe was for blackened redfish, but we use tilapia instead.
I usually tinker with recipes to make them my own, which you will know if you’ve ever taken a gander at my About page. But some recipes cannot be perfected, because they are already there. Chef Paul’s blackened fish is one of those. His blackened redfish was so popular in the 80’s that some called it the dish of the decade. In a retrospective about Chef Paul, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says it almost wiped out Gulf Coast redfish population.
I can understand why! We’ve created magic with the Chef Paul blackened fish recipe twice now, and it is downright spectacular. Moist on the inside, crusty and just-right spicy on the inside…heavenly.
The recipe in the cookbook has a marvelous spice mix that is juuuust right. Beware: there’s a recipe online on the official Paul Prudhomme web site, but it is different than the cookbook version and uses a pre-made commercial spice mix from the Chef Paul brand. Don’t use that one – use the one from the cookbook. I wouldn’t normally publish the recipe from the cookbook because it is copyright protected, but the New Orleans Times-Picayune published it in their online article in NOLA.com, so I’ve included it below. My advice: do not stray from these instructions. The result is a perfectly cooked blackened fish that is fine enough to serve to Sunday company.
From The Times-Picayune, April 5, 1984
“Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” includes this note: Redfish and pompano are ideal for this method of cooking. If tilefish is used, you may have to split the fillets in half horizontally to have the proper thickness. If you can’t get any of these fish, salmon steaks or red snapper fillets can be substituted. In any case, the fillets or steaks must not be more than 3/4 inch thick.
Makes 6 servings
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted in a skillet
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
- 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 6 (8- to 10-ounce) fish fillets, preferably redfish, pompano or tilefish, cut about 1/2 inch thick (note: at Glover Gardens, we use tilapia)
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over very high heat until it is beyond the smoking stage and you see white ash in the skillet bottom (the skillet cannot be too hot for this dish), at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour 2 tablespoons melted butter in each of 6 small ramekins; set aside and keep warm. Reserve* the remaining butter in its skillet. Heat the serving plates in a 250-degree oven.
Thoroughly combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowL Dip each fillet in the reserved melted butter so that both sides are well coated; then sprinkle seasoning mix generously and evenly on both sides of the fillets, patting it in by hand. Place fish in the hot skillet and pour 1 teaspoon melted butter on top of each fillet (be careful, as the butter may flame up).
Cook, uncovered, over the same high heat until the underside looks charred, about 2 minutes (the time will vary according to the fillet’s thickness and the heat of the skillet). Turn the fish over and again pour 1 teaspoon butter on top. Cook until fish is done, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining fillets. Serve each fillet while piping hot.
To serve, place one fillet and a ramekin of butter on each heated serving plate.
I don’t know if we’ll have time to get to K-Paul’s while we’re in New Orleans for the Jazz Fest (in less than 2 weeks!!!!), but with this recipe, we can have a little bit of Chef Paul’s kitchen magic right here at home.
One last tip: if you have any blackened fish left, it is marvelous the next day in a fish taco. Just add a bit of pico de gallo or slaw and serve it up on a corn or flour tortilla.
- Paul Prudhomme retrospective article in NOLA.com / the Times-Picayune: Blackened Redfish and 9 Other Inspirational Recipes from Chef Paul Prudhomme
- More New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation posts
- Post #1 of this series, an affectionate memory of an amazing Jambalaya Pizza.
- Post #2, the official announcement of the lineup for Jazz Fest 2017
- Post #3, This City is a Quirky Feast for the Eyes
- Post #4, Bayona is a Foodie’s Delight
- Post #5, The Importance of Hats (and Bandanas)
- Post #6, Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch
- Post #7, New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Food at the Festival and the Foodie’s Dilemma
Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook