The late great Paul Prudhomme, who died last year, brought Cajun cookery to national attention with his 1984 classic Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. His most iconic recipe was “blackened redfish.” Redfish was a humble fish that suddenly was in high demand. His recipe called for scorching high heat. I made it several times and it was delicious, but set off the fire alarms.
I bought some beautiful Red Snapper today from my friend Mike Mazzeo at Guido’s Marketplace and wondered how to cook it without smoking up the kitchen.
After some research I found a kinder, gentler version of Prudhomme’s recipe on-line from Mario Batali using the Red Snapper, which is a really great fish no matter how you make it.
So I made it tonight with a few of my own tweaks and it came out great, and didn’t set off the fire alarms. I have an ancient 10-inch cast iron skillet, which works like a charm. Once you make the spice mixture, the rest is just keeping an eye on the heat of your pan.
If you don’t like hot and spicy food this one is probably not for you (though if you substitute more Paprika for the Cayenne you can make it less hot.) This recipe is for two, but can be doubled by doing more batches. Add more oil and butter before starting a new batch.
Cajun Seasoning Mixture:
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
1 Teaspoon Paprika (I used Smoked Paprika because I love it)
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 6-8 ounce fresh Red Snapper fillets about ½ inch to ¾ inch thick.
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat until it is hot and add the oil and butter. When the butter foams, dredge the fish fillets in the spice mixture and put them in the pan skin side down.
Cook for five minutes. Turn the fish and cook for another minute.
Remove and serve with lemon wedges.
(Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2016)