Mardi Gras is on its way. Fat Tuesday is Feb. 13 this year, and it’s time to celebrate Louisiana culture with some traditional food and music. Get your smart speaker to play Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys while you whip up an amazingly simple, classic Cajun dish.
Blackened redfish was introduced to the world by the late chef Paul Prudhomme, a sharecropper’s son who helped launch the Cajun food craze of the 1970s with his New Orleans restaurant K-Paul’s. The dish became so popular in the 1970s that the commercial fishery had to be closed down for a time, to allow redfish stocks to recover.
Redfish, a Gulf of Mexico saltwater species also known as red drum, is now being raised by fish farmers. But it’s not the only fish that suits this spicy, crispy quick entree. We like salmon for the dish because it stands up to the robust flavors in our Blackened Seasoning: garlic and onion, cumin and garden herbs and two kinds of chili, plus pepper, paprika and sea salt.
And that’s pretty much all you need: A spicy buttering, a well-heated pan and a mouthwatering fillet. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
2 salmon fillets
1 tsp. Whole Spice Blackened Seasoning (½ tsp. per fillet)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tsp. for rubbing the fish
Rub the salmon fillets with the soft butter, ½ tsp. apiece. Sprinkle the fillets with Whole Spice Blackened Seasoning. Heat a nonstick pan, add butter and immediately add fillets, skin side up.
Cook until spice is darkened, about 2-3 minutes. Flip fillets and cook for 2 minutes, until the skin is crisp. Remove the fish from the pan and let it rest for a minute to continue cooking inside.
Serve with fresh green salad and rice.
Get the pan as hot as you can without causing the butter to smoke. The essence of this dish is to cook it quickly.
More about Mardi Gras
“Fat Tuesday,” called Shrove Tuesday in the Christian calendar and celebrated as Carnival in numerous other cultures, is the last chance for indulgence — eating, drinking and costumed parades — before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
But nobody waits till Tuesday to have a good time. In New Orleans, the Mardi Gras capital of the world, more than 70 parades begin in early January. By Lundi Gras (Fat Monday), the festival is in full swing.
Lake Charles, Louisiana, has the second-largest Mardi Gras celebration, including a parade of Jeeps and a lighted boat parade.
In the rural south of Louisiana, locals take to horseback for the Courir de Mardi Gras, a tradition that dates to medieval France and has been revived in recent decades after almost passing out of existence.
During Lent, many Christians traditionally abstain from eating meat on Fridays. If you observe the Lenten fast, this dish will bring you a bit of Cajun cheer on any Friday.