“Blackening Seasoning” – Born to be Wild
If you want to become a true Souphound, New Orleans is the place to be!
Growing up at the Gulf Coast on the Mobile Bay, I spent most of the time with the Simple Things in Life: fishing, hunting and drinking. Down here, food is part of your culture, it’s in your blood. When I was hungry, Corky, my Dad would take me to Wintcell’s Oyster House. All-you-can-eat oysters, all day long. And trust me, I killed it every time.
As soon as we were legal to drive – way before we were legal to drink, we gravitated towards New Orleans like moths towards the light. Promiscuous nights, ruthless bars, endless parties and an abundance of fantastic food. Plenty of reasons to get into trouble. Plenty of chances to get away with it. Swamp rats, bar flies, easy girls, bikers – the crowd was just too good not to go. The days were long, but the nights were longer.
New Orleans drinking is different from normal drinking.
There is early morning drinking, daytime drinking, before-5 o’clock drinking, nighttime drinking and “all the moments in between” drinking. It’s a philosophy, it’s a ritual and it requires meticulous planning of what, when and where. Food is utterly important too, especially when you want to make it through a whole night. Roastbeef Sandwiches at Pierre Maspero’s for lunch. Muffulettas at the Central Grocery for dinner. Highlight of the night used to be “Chicken on a Stick” at “Takee Outee”, a cheap Chinese Dive with fantastic fare. No dine in, just walk up to the counter. Less than $5 including a 20oz beer in a paper cup. You simply couldn’t beat that deal. And their ginormous egg roles were the best in town.
Every night ended traditionally with “debris”. The debris of a night stuffed into a sandwich – seemingly fitted to our wasted state of mind. Simply amazing! The cab ride back to our cheap hotel faced us with the very last challenge of the night: How to keep food and drinks inside, at least until the bathroom had been reached.
New Orleans was the place where I unknowingly got my education in the subtleties of the culinary world. Succulent smells, boldness of spices, abundance of flavors. Melting pot of Creole and Cajun, refinement of soul food and seafood. Opposites attract! Elevated fine dining in small Hole-in-the-Wall joints.
This was the place where I had my first Blackened Mahi. Flaky, tender fish filets, covered with a electrifying spice rub, guaranteed to blow your mind. Smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano, garlic and onion. BBQ on steroids. Born in a small kitchen out of desperation. Pan seared for lack of a grill or salamander. Slightly crusted, blackened! It’s sooo good.
Here’s to New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme for this wonderful staple. Blackening Seasoning works extremely well with fish, steak, chicken and even roasted vegetables.
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total time: 5 Minutes
- 2 tbsp Sweet Paprika
- 1 tbsp Maldon Sea Salt
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 tbsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tbsp dried Oregano
- 1 tbsp dried Thyme
- 1 tbsp dried Basil
- 1/2 tbsp toasted crushed Black Malabar Pepper
In the beginning it seems elaborate to buy all these spices. In real life most of them are standard staples in different spice mixes. I started buying bulk and make several spice mixes at one time and store them in air tight containers.
I usually use Maldon Salt in most of my recipes because of its slightly sweet and very aromatic flavor. Of course regular Kosher Salt works, as does Sea Salt. Keep in mind that different types of salt have different intensities. Never go by numbers or measurements only. Always taste! It's easy to add, but hard to remove!
Malabar Black Pepper is a very aromatic variant. Regular black pepper also works. If somehow possible, use peppercorns, toast them until fragrant (don't burn them) and then crush them with a pan on a board or with a mortar and pestle. You will get more intense and refined flavors.
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* CLICK HERE to find our Recipe Blackened Snapper