I first learned about Cajun “blackened” seasoning in the 80’s when Paul Prudhomme made his splash on the culinary scene. Typically to prepare blackened fish you dip the fish fillet in butter and then coat it with blackened seasoning and sear it over high heat in a cast iron skillet. It’s then served with an additional small ramekin of melted butter for dipping.
My version uses less butter, is less intense in spicy flavor and can be made without a cast iron skillet -although you can use one for this recipe if you have it.
For sauteing the fennel and onions, don’t stir them too much while they are cooking. Instead, stir them when you initially put them in the pan and then let them sit for several minutes before touching them again. This will allow them to get browned and lightly caramelized.
- 4 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (large bulb)
- 2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (large onion)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons Cajun blackened seasoning (found in the spice section of most grocery stores)*homemade recipe follows
- 4 fresh True or Ling cod fillets, 5-6 ounces each (halibut can be substituted)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons melted butter (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat; add fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and continue cooking until onions and fennel are lightly browned and caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
- Stir together blackened seasoning, cornmeal and flour; put in a shallow pan. Lightly coat both sides of cod fillets with the blackened seasoning mixture.
- Heat butter and vegetable oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat; when butter is melted and oil and butter are hot, add cod fillets and cook about 4-5 minutes. Turn fillets and repeat process cooking until cod is just cooked through about 4-5 minutes longer, depending on the thickness of fillets.
- To serve, divide caramelized fennel and onions onto four plates; put blackened cod fillet on top. If desired serve with melted butter for dipping.
- *Homemade Cajun blackened seasoning: stir together 2 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Makes ¼ cup. Store in airtight container.
Start to finish this recipe should take about 45 minutes.